Effects of Immigrant Legalization on Crime: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act
Scott R. Baker
Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, Department of Finance
July 28, 2014
Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 412
I examine the effects that the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which legalized almost 3 million immigrants, had on crime in the United States. I exploit the IRCA's quasi-random timing as well as geographic variation in the intensity of treatment to isolate causal impacts. I find decreases in crime of 2%-6%, primarily due to decline in property crimes, equivalent to 80,000-240,000 fewer violent and property crimes committed each year due to legalization. I calibrate a labor market model of crime, finding that much of the drop in crime can be explained by greater labor market opportunities among applicants.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 46
Keywords: Immigration, Crime, Policy, Amnesty, Legalization, Legal Status
JEL Classification: F22, J22, J61, K37, K42
Date posted: May 4, 2011 ; Last revised: August 1, 2014
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