The Effect of the Exposure to Refugees on Crime Activity: Evidence from the Greek Islands
45 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 1, 2020
Political instability in the Middle East has triggered the largest flow of asylum seekers in Europe since WWII. In their attempt to enter Europe, refugees use boats that depart from various locations along the Turkish coast, heading toward the closest Greek island. We use exogenous variation in the number of refugees across the islands to answer two questions: (1) Do refugees commit more crimes in the destination islands? (2) What kinds of crimes are more likely to be committed? We assembled a new dataset on the number and nature of crime incidents at the island level based on newspaper reports. We employ instrumental variables and difference-indifferences techniques to study the causal relationship between immigration and crime. We find that a 1-percentage-point increase in the share of refugees on the destination island increases reported crime incidents by 3-5% compared with neighboring unexposed islands. We find that this difference in the violence pattern is driven by crime incidents committed by the foreign-born population, while there is no change in reported crimes committed by natives on those islands. Additionally, we show that there is no increase in drug-related crimes, while there is an increase in incidents of property crimes, knife attacks, and rape.
Keywords: crime, migration, property, Greek islands, rape, difference-in-differences, instrumental variable
JEL Classification: : F61, F22, K42, J15
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