A New Study Shows Higher Immigrant Populations May Reduce Crime


Immigration has been at the center of our political rhetoric for decades, now. Clinton began the process of toughing border restrictions, and Bush and Obama continued it, with the Obama administration seeing a record number of deportations. Whether Trump will follow that example or not remains to be seen, but new research says perhaps he shouldn’t.

Robert Adelman, associate professor of sociology at University at Buffalo, led an analysis of crime rates in cities that saw major infux of immigrants. Specifically, Adelman and his coauthors cross-referenced Census data and FBI crime reports for 200 major metropolitan areas between 1970 and 2010. That’s particularly significant because violent crime in the US peaked in 1991, so if there was going to be any time period that proved immigration increased violent crime, this would be it. It also examined property crimes, which are likely to reflect a lack of economic opportunity.

Instead, the data found that a large influx of immigrants either stabilized or reduced the crime rate. Even more striking, the data was used to assemble four statistical models looking at crime through various lenses, and found:

Metropolises with higher percentages of foreign-born populations had consistently lower rates of murder, robbery, burglary, and larceny. Thus, our research leads us to conclude that revitalization is most likely the dominant mechanism linking immigration to crime in U.S. metropolitan areas over the past four decades, further solidifying scholarly support for the idea that immigrants, on the whole, have positive impacts on American social and economic life.

Needless to say, this study will likely become a political football, but it’s worth considering why immigrants come to the United States in the first place. If you’re moving somewhere because you want a better life, why are you going to run around trashing the place? The study’s authors admit that this looks only at immigration and crime, and doesn’t consider other factors, and they also note that this study will not be the last word. Immigration and crime are both complex social issues that don’t interact with each other in a vacuum. But it’s clear that if nothing else, one way to reduce crime is ensure everybody in your community wants to be there.

(via Ars Technica)