Immigration, Crime, and Policing: Evidence From US History

Awarded Scholars:
Rowena Gray, University of California, Merced
Project Date:
Jul 2019
Award Amount:

Whether immigration increases crime remains a much-debated question. Sociologists and criminologists have suggested that immigration has not increased crime since 1960, when larger waves of immigrants began to enter the U.S. Economists have recently entered this debate and are seeking to produce causal estimates of this relationship. Economic historian Rowena Gray will examine the extent to which immigration increased crime in an earlier era of heavy immigration. In the first part of the project, Gray will analyze novel data on arrest rates, by category of crime, across 30 large cities over the period from 1880 to 1930. She will also assess the extent to which public sector jobs facilitated social mobility for particular groups. The second part of the project will examine the implications of obtaining police jobs, focusing on particular immigrant groups and looking at mobility for the officers and intergenerational mobility across generations. 


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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