Silence of the Innocents: Illegal Immigrants' Underreporting of Crime and Their Victimization

50 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2016

See all articles by Stefano Comino

Stefano Comino

Università degli Studi di Udine

Giovanni Mastrobuoni

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

Antonio Nicolo

University of Padua - Department of Economics; University of Manchester

Abstract

We analyze the consequences of illegally residing in a country on the likelihood of reporting a crime to the police and, as a consequence, on the likelihood to become victims of a crime. We use an immigration amnesty to address two issues when dealing with the legal status of immigrants: it is both endogenous as well as mostly unobserved in surveys. Right after the 1986 US Immigration Reform and Control Act, which disproportionately legalized individuals of Hispanic origin, crime victims of Hispanic origin in cities with a large proportion of illegal Hispanics become considerably more likely to report a crime. Non-Hispanics show no changes.Difference-in-differences estimates that adjust for the misclassification of legal status imply that the reporting rate of undocumented immigrants is close to 11 percent. Gaining legal status the reporting rate triples, approaching the reporting rate of non-Hispanics. We also find some evidence that following the amnesty Hispanics living in metropolitan areas with a large share of illegal migrants experience a reduction in victimization. This is coherent with a simple behavioral model of crime that guides our empirical strategies, where amnesties increase the reporting rate of legalized immigrants, which, in turn, modify the victimization of natives and migrants.

Keywords: immigration, amnesty, crime reporting, victimization survey

JEL Classification: J15, K37, K42, R23

Suggested Citation

Comino, Stefano and Mastrobuoni, Giovanni and Nicolo, Antonio, Silence of the Innocents: Illegal Immigrants' Underreporting of Crime and Their Victimization. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10306. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2861091

Stefano Comino (Contact Author)

Università degli Studi di Udine ( email )

Via Tarcisio Petracco, Palazzo antonini, 8
Udine, 33100
Italy

Giovanni Mastrobuoni

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 )

Antonio Nicolo

University of Padua - Department of Economics ( email )

via Del Santo 33
Padova, 35123
Italy

University of Manchester ( email )

Arthur Lewis Building
Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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