2017-18 Selected honors theses

Safer in a strange land: Studying the relationship between refugee resettlement and crime in the United States

Andrew Wolff '18

Xenophobia in America has fueled the perception that refugees pose a danger to native citizens. However, the refugee admissions process and "immigrant revitalization" perspective suggest that refugees would not affect crime. Yet, refugees with integration issues may commit crimes out of economic deprivation or social disorganization. Further research is necessary to understand how refugees affect public safety. In this paper, I study "free-case" refugee resettlement's effect on U.S. crime rates and whether southeast Asian refugee resettlement from 1975 to 1980 influenced crime. I find some evidence that refugee resettlement has a small negative relationship with murder rates. However, this finding does not extend to violent or property crime rates. Additionally, I find no evidence that southeast Asian refugees resettled during that period affected crime. This project develops the immigration-crime relationship and provides evidence that refugees do not threaten resettlement communities.

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