Theoretical Perspectives on the Immigration-Crime Relationship

Authored by: Charis E. Kubrin , Michelle D. Mioduszewski

Routledge Handbook on Immigration and Crime

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138668416
eBook ISBN: 9781317211563
Adobe ISBN:


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A growing body of research documents that, contrary to public opinion, immigrants commit less crime than the native-born and that increased immigration to an area is either associated with lower crime rates or is not associated with crime at all. Scholars offer several theoretical explanations to account for such findings. In this chapter, we review the most prominent of these theoretical arguments, including explanations related to self-selection, ethnic enclaves, the immigration-revitalization thesis, and family structure. At the same time, in light of the sizeable literature at the individual-level which finds that the children of immigrants who are born in the U.S. exhibit higher offending rates than their parents and that assimilated immigrants have higher rates of criminal involvement compared to unassimilated immigrants, in this chapter, we also review a theoretical framework that attempts to explain this finding—downward or segmented assimilation. Our aim in this chapter is to introduce readers to some of the leading theoretical explanations on the immigration-crime nexus.

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