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The Effects of Immigrant Concentration on Changes in Neighborhood Crime Rates

  • Author(s): MacDonald, JM
  • Hipp, JR
  • Gill, C
  • et al.

Objectives: This study investigated the extent to which immigrant concentration is associated with reductions in neighborhood crime rates in the City of Los Angeles. Methods: A potential outcomes model using two-stage least squares regression was estimated, where immigrant concentration levels in 1990 were used as an instrumental variable to predict immigrant concentration levels in 2000. The instrumental variables design was used to reduce selection bias in estimating the effect of immigrant concentration on changes in official crime rates between 2000 and 2005 for census tracts in the City of Los Angeles, holding constant other demographic variables and area-level fixed effects. Non-parametric smoothers were also employed in a two-stage least squares regression model to control for the potential influence of heterogeneity in immigrant concentration on changes in crime rates. Results: The results indicate that greater predicted concentrations of immigrants in neighborhoods are linked to significant reductions in crime. The results are robust to a number of different model specifications. Conclusions: The findings challenge traditional ecological perspectives that link immigrant settlement to higher rates of crime. Immigration settlement patterns appear to be associated with reducing the social burden of crime. Study conclusions are limited by the potential for omitted variables that may bias the observed relationship between immigrant concentration and neighborhood crime rates, and the use of only official crime data which may under report crimes committed against immigrants. Understanding whether immigrant concentration is an important dynamic of changing neighborhood patterns of crime outside Los Angeles will require replication with data from other U. S. cities. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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