Understanding the impact of immigration on crime

Jörg L. Spenkuch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaht017
Pages (from-to)177-219
Number of pages43
JournalAmerican Law and Economics Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the impact of immigration on crime'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this