Urban crime rates and the changing face of immigration: Evidence across four decades

Robert Adelman, Lesley Williams Reid, Gail Markle, Saskia Weiss & Charles Jaret
Date of Publication: 
March, 2017
Source Organization: 

Although research has consistently shown that immigrants have lower crime rates than the native-born population, testing for possible "indirect" effects on crime rates, e.g. by leading native-born Americans affected by hypothetical job displacement to turn to lives of crime, has been minimal. This study attempts to remedy this gap in research. The authors investigate the immigration-crime relationship within 200 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) over a 40-year time period from 1970 to 2010.  By pushing the time frame back to 1970 (the horizon for most recent studies is much shorter), this research has the advantage of including periods of both economic stress and expansion. The study examines rates (per 100,000 people) of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, and larceny at five points in time (1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010).  The results show that "the presence of immigrants consistently helped to decrease violent and property crime in U.S. metropolitan areas" and thus suggestions that immigrants contribute to crime through "structural" or "macro-level" mechanisms are unfounded.  The paper also contains a useful summary of research to date on the question of immigration and crime.

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Adelman, R., et al. (2017). “Urban crime rates and the changing face of immigration: Evidence across four decades.” Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 15(1). Available https://doi.org/10.1080/15377938.2016.1261057