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Reassessing The Breadth Of The Protective Benefit Of Immigrant Neighborhoods: A Multilevel Analysis Of Violence Risk By Race, Ethnicity, And Labor Market Stratification

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Criminology

Published online on

Abstract

Researchers in the United States have increasingly recognized that immigration reduces crime, but it remains unresolved whether this applies to people of different racial–ethnic and economic backgrounds. By using the 2008–2012 area‐identified National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), we evaluate the effect of neighborhood immigrant concentration on individual violence risk across race/ethnicity and labor market stratification factors in areas with different histories of immigration. The results of our analysis reveal three key patterns. First, we find a consistent protective role of immigrant concentration that is not weakened by low education, low income, unemployment, or labor market competition. Therefore, even economically disadvantaged people enjoy the crime‐reduction benefit of immigration. Second, we find support for threshold models that predict a nonlinear, stronger protective role of immigrant concentration on violence at higher levels of immigrant concentration. The protective function of immigration also is higher in areas of longer histories of immigration. Third, compared with Blacks and Whites, Latinos receive a greater violence‐reduction benefit of immigrant concentration possibly because they live in closer proximity with immigrants and share common sociocultural features. Nevertheless, immigrant concentration yields a diminishing return in reducing Latino victimization as immigrants approach a near‐majority of neighborhood residents. The implications of these results are discussed.