Immigration and violent crime in California, 1980-2012: Contextualization by temporal period and race/ethnicity

Ben Feldmeyer, Darrell Steffensmeier, Casey T. Harris, Shahin Tasharrofi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In light of concerns surrounding the alleged link between immigration and crime, our goal is to investigate trends in violent crime rates by race/ethnicity within and between counties with differing degrees of immigration. Using unique data from California for the 1980 to 2012 period, we find (1) that after an initial decade of stability, violence rates fell beginning in the 1990s during a period of rapid immigration growth. Additionally, (2) this pattern is observed for all offenses, race/ethnic groups (including Hispanics), and was near uniform in counties with both high and low levels of immigrant concentration and growth. Despite fears of immigration fueled crime waves, our findings suggest that high immigration has not worsened the problem of violent crime and that places with both low and high immigrant concentrations and growth experienced parallel declines in crime from 1990 to 2012.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-214
Number of pages18
JournalMigration Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development

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