Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime

43 Pages Posted: 22 May 2010 Last revised: 21 Jan 2017

Date Written: July 2013


Since the 1960s both crime rates and the share of immigrants among the American population have more than doubled; and almost three quarters of Americans believe that immigration increases crime. Yet, existing academic research has shown no such effect. Using panel data on US counties, this paper presents empirical evidence on a systematic impact of immigration on crime. Consistent with the economic model of crime this effect is strongest for crimes motivated by financial gain, such as motor vehicle theft and robbery. Moreover, the effect is only present for those immigrants most likely to have poor labor market outcomes. Failure to account for the cost of increased crime would overstate the “immigration surplus” substantially, but it would not reverse its sign.

Keywords: immigration, crime, social cost of immigration

Suggested Citation

Spenkuch, Jörg L., Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime (July 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1612849 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1612849

Jörg L. Spenkuch (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS) ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jspenkuch.github.io

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