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Immigration and the Changing Nature of Homicide in US Cities, 1980-2010


Objectives: Previous research has neglected to consider whether trends in immigration are related to changes in the nature of homicide. This is important because there is considerable variability in the temporal trends of homicide subtypes disaggregated by circumstance. In the current study, we address this issue by investigating whether within-city changes in immigration are related to temporal variations in rates of overall and circumstance-specific homicide for a sample of large US cities during the period between 1980 and 2010. Methods: Fixed-effects negative binomial and two-stage least squares (2SLS) instrumental variable regression models are used to analyze data from 156 large US cities observed during the 1980-2010 period. Results: Findings from the analyses suggest that temporal change in overall homicide and drug homicide rates are significantly related to changes in immigration. Specifically, increases in immigration are associated with declining rates for each of the preceding outcome measures. Moreover, for several of the homicide types, findings suggest that the effects of changes in immigration vary across places, with the largest negative associations appearing in cities that had relatively high initial (i.e., 1970) immigration levels. Conclusions: There is support for the thesis that changes in immigration in recent decades are related to changes in rates of lethal violence. However, it appears that the relationship is contingent and varied, not general. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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