Migration Restrictions and Criminal Behavior: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

51 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2011

See all articles by Giovanni Mastrobuoni

Giovanni Mastrobuoni

University of Turin - Collegio Carlo Alberto; University of Essex - Department of Economics; IZA

Paolo Pinotti

Bocconi University - BAFFI Center on International Markets, Money, and Regulation

Date Written: July 21, 2011

Abstract

We estimate the causal effect of immigrants' legal status on criminal behavior exploiting exogenous variation in migration restrictions across nationalities driven by the last round of the European Union enlargement. Unique individual-level data on a collective clemency bill enacted in Italy five months before the enlargement allow us to compare the post-release criminal record of inmates from new EU member countries with a control group of pardoned inmates from candidate EU member countries. Difference-in-differences in the probability of re-arrest between the two groups before and after the enlargement show that obtaining legal status lowers the recidivism of economically motivated offenders, but only in areas that provide relatively better labor market opportunities to legal immigrants. We provide a search-theoretic model of criminal behavior that is consistent with these results.

Keywords: Immigration, Crime, Legal Status

JEL Classification: F22, K42, C41

Suggested Citation

Mastrobuoni, Giovanni and Pinotti, Paolo, Migration Restrictions and Criminal Behavior: Evidence from a Natural Experiment (July 21, 2011). FEEM Working Paper No. 53.2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1891689 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1891689

Giovanni Mastrobuoni (Contact Author)

University of Turin - Collegio Carlo Alberto ( email )

Piazza Arbarello 8
Torino, Torino 10122
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.carloalberto.org/people/faculty/assistant-professors-and-chairs/mastrobuoni/

University of Essex - Department of Economics ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

IZA ( email )

Paolo Pinotti

Bocconi University - BAFFI Center on International Markets, Money, and Regulation ( email )

Milano, 20136
Italy

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