Almost three quarters of Americans believe that immigration increases crime. Yet, existing academic research has shown no such effect. Using panel data on U.S. counties, this paper presents empirical evidence on a systematic, but small impact of immigration on crime. Consistent with the economic model of crime this effect is stronger for crimes motivated by financial gain, such as motor vehicle theft and robbery.Moreover, the effect is only present for those immigrants most likely to have poor labor market outcomes. Failure to account for the cost of increased crime would overstate the "immigration surplus," but it would not reverse its sign.
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