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Effects of Immigrant Legalization on Crime: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act


Scott R. Baker


Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance

July 28, 2014

Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 412

Abstract:     
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

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Date posted: May 4, 2011 ; Last revised: August 1, 2014

Suggested Citation

Baker, Scott R., Effects of Immigrant Legalization on Crime: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (July 28, 2014). Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 412. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1829368 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1829368

Contact Information

Scott R. Baker (Contact Author)
Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance ( email )
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
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