Clicking on Heaven's Door: The Effect of Immigrant Legalization on Crime

47 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2014 Last revised: 23 Oct 2014

See all articles by Paolo Pinotti

Paolo Pinotti

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2014

Abstract

We estimate the effect of legal status on the number of crimes committed by immigrants in the destination country, exploiting the Italian policy framework as an ideal regression discontinuity design: fixed quotas of residence permits are available each year, applications must be submitted electronically on specific "Click Days" and are processed on a first-come, first-served basis until the available quotas are exhausted. By matching data on applicants - including the timing of the application in milliseconds - with restricted-use police files, we find that obtaining legal status reduces the number of serious crimes committed in the following year from 2.9 to 1.2 per 100 applicants. The effect is greater on economic crimes, in regions offering better economic opportunities to legal immigrants, and under weak enforcement of migration restrictions. These findings are consistent with the predictions of a simple model of crime.

Keywords: legal status, crime, regression discontinuity design

JEL Classification: J61, K37, K42

Suggested Citation

Pinotti, Paolo, Clicking on Heaven's Door: The Effect of Immigrant Legalization on Crime (October 2014). Baffi Center Research Paper No. 2014-154. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2426502 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2426502

Paolo Pinotti (Contact Author)

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

Milano, 20136
Italy

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