Immigration is frequently mentioned as one of the most important issues facing politicians in advanced economies. Commonly expressed as immigrants harm the labour market prospects of natives. This concern has received substantial, and sometimes controversial, attention in the academic labour economics literature. However, it also reflects a wider concern over the impact of large immigration flows on other aspects of society.
For example, a large cross-countries opinion poll conducted in several developed countries discovered that natives thought that immigrants increased crime took their jobs while, there is no simple link between immigration and crime. Nevertheless, immigrant groups that face poor labour market opportunities are more likely to commit property crime, as also disadvantaged native groups do (Bell, B. et al. 2013). Therefore, the policy makers should focus on reducing crime by improving the functioning of labour markets and the condition of workers skills, rather than on crime and immigration percentages (Jeffrey Harrod and Robert O’Brien 2002)
One important determinant of the relative returns to legal and illegal activities for migrants relates to their legal status. Illegal immigrants have much more limited opportunity to obtain legal employment and are rarely entitled to public assistance if they are unemployed (Kees Van der Pijl 2009). While this suggests that criminal tendencies among illegal immigrants might higher, it is difficult to evaluate this empirically since we cannot in general observe illegal immigrants (Bell, B. et al. 2013). Evidence from surveys of legalized migrants suggests strong effects of legalization on labour market outcomes, with 75% of respondents reporting that having legal status made it much easier to find work and 60% reporting that it helped them advance in their current job. This all suggests that there may be strong effects on crime patterns following legalization (Kees Van der Pijl 2009).
The only positive correlations which may exist between crime and immigration rates is the increased crime against immigrants rather than by immigrants despite the fact that, immigrants have different reporting rates than natives because they are more cautious in having contact with the authorities (Bell, B. et al. 2013).
Therefore, policy-makers have two additional tools at their disposal when focusing on immigrants and crime:
First, legalizing the status of immigrants appears to have beneficial effects on crime rates a rarely discussed aspect of such programs.
Second, the increased use of point-based immigration systems allows countries to select the characteristics of immigrants that are offered residence.


Becker, G. (1968): Crime and punishment: An economic approach. Journal of Political Economy 76:2 pp.175−209. Available at: Accessed on the 4th December 2014
Bell, B. et al. (2013): Crime and immigration: Evidence from large immigrant waves. Review of Economics and Statistics 95:4 pp.1278−1290. Accessed on the 4th December 2014 available at
Engelhardt, B. et al. (2008); In: Journal of public economics. VOL 92; NUMBER 10-11, pp.1876-1891: Journal of public economics. ; LCC: HJ101; Dewey: 336; Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam.
Jeffrey Harrod and Robert O’Brien (2002) Global unions? ; Theory and strategies of organized labour in the global political economy; London: Routledge.
Kees Van der Pijl (2009) From Classical to Global Political Economy: A Survey of Global Political Economy (Version 2.1 Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex) pp. 1 – 29. Available at Accessed on the 4th December 2014

By Alex

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s