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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Immigrants' crime rate only 20% that of native-born Americans

Bryan Caplan has an interesting find:

A high fraction of immigrants are young, low-skilled, Hispanic males. Given these demographics, I long assumed that immigrants would have relatively high crime rates. While I kept this problem in perspective, I took it for granted that increased crime was a genuine drawback of immigration.

I was wrong.

A fascinating NBER Working Paper (earlier, free version here) by Kristin Butcher and Anne Piehl shows that, despite their demographics, immigrants are drastically less criminal than native-born Americans. In fact, immigrants have one-fifth the incarceration rate of natives. Yes, natives are incarcerated at five times the rate of the foreign-born.

So, the next time you hear someone bashing immigrants and complaining about the high crime rates they inflict upon us, confront them with this bit of information.


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