Immigration Makes Cities Safer

Cit­ies with large immig­rant pop­u­la­tions are some of the safest places to live, sug­gest the data and stud­ies, espe­cially those where the police “know how to work with [immig­rants], not against them”.

The stud­ies in question–including one extens­ive study by the FBI–go on to sug­gest reas­on­s why immig­rants reduce a city’s crime:

This is not just a mat­ter of ran­dom cor­rel­a­tion being mis­taken for caus­a­tion. A new study by soci­olo­gist Tim Wadsworth […] care­fully eval­u­ates the vari­ous factors behind the stat­ist­ics that show a massive drop in crime dur­ing the 1990s at a time when immig­ra­tion rose dra­mat­ic­ally. In a peer-reviewed paper appear­ing in the June 2010 issue of Social Sci­ence Quarterly, Wadsworth argues not only that “cit­ies with the largest increases in immig­ra­tion between 1990 and 2000 exper­i­enced the largest decreases in hom­icide and rob­bery,” which we knew, but that after con­sid­er­ing all the oth­er explan­a­tions, rising immig­ra­tion “was par­tially respons­ible.” […]

So, yes, there are pretty com­pel­ling data to sup­port the argu­ment that immig­rants as such—even pre­sum­ably “illeg­al” immigrants—do not make cit­ies more dan­ger­ous to live in. But what mech­an­ism about such immig­ra­tion makes cit­ies safer? Robert J. Sampson, head of the soci­ology depart­ment at Har­vard, has sug­ges­ted that, among oth­er things, immig­rants move into neigh­bor­hoods aban­doned by loc­als and help pre­vent them from turn­ing into urb­an waste­lands. They often have tight­er fam­ily struc­tures and mutu­al sup­port net­works, all of which actu­ally serve to sta­bil­ize urb­an envir­on­ments. As Sampson told me back in 2007, “If you want to be safe, move to an immig­rant city.”

1 thought on “Immigration Makes Cities Safer

  1. Ryan Holiday

    Kind of disin­genu­ous piece, at least to take the angle it took and then for the authors to throw in that it “pre­sum­ably” also applies to illeg­al immig­ra­tion. Say whatever you want about the racist idi­ots who are in favor of the vari­ous regress­ive immig­ra­tion policies but as a rule, their prob­lem is solely with illeg­al immig­ra­tion. You’d be hard pressed to find one who would deny the bene­fits of leg­al immig­ra­tion.

    This study doesn’t really address the only con­ten­tious part of the debate.

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