Would an increase in immigration into developed urban neighborhoods from easy cross border movement witness any measurable increase in criminal activity so as to justify the growing safety and security concerns among citizens? Existing literature on immigration and crime in urban neighborhoods show a clear contradiction in the role of immigrants as a determinant of criminal activity. While some studies argue that immigration increases at least some types of crime, other studies have argued that the process of immigration reduces crime, supporting the "immigration revitalization" hypothesis. However, most of the findings are restricted to data from only one region: the US. Hence the validity of these contrasting arguments needs to be tested with data from other parts of the developed world facing similar levels of immigration. Ravindra and co-author address this by constructing a novel neighborhood data between 2000 and 2012 for Switzerland’s most diverse canton, Geneva, in the context of Switzerland’s official entry into the Schengen area comprising the European Union. The results employing an instrument variable approach show a long-term decline in crime rates due to corresponding changes in immigration rates. The effect is consistent for both broad and narrow categorization of criminal activity. Counter factual analysis show that the results are conditional to the presence of clustered immigrant groupings in high resolution spatial units – suggesting positive externalities from immigrant networks. Utilizing a new data on country level media reporting and existing survey questionnaires they explain the growing safety concerns linked with immigration from a likely increase in negative elite partisan rhetoric towards potential immigrants reaffirming pre-existing fears or perception towards security among the local public.

 

 

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