Immigration Enforcement and Crime

In this paper we empirically estimate the effect of immigration enforcement on the criminal activity of undocumented immigrants in Italy exploiting differences in the enforcement of migration restrictions toward immigrants of different nationalities. In particular, a few countries of origin signed bilateral agreements with Italy for the control of illegal migration, which allow for a quick and effective repatriation of unauthorized immigrants apprehended by the Italian police. In the absence of such agreements, immigrants of other nationalities typically receive only an injunction to leave Italy, but they are not actually expelled. We then compare the crime rate of regular and irregular immigrants coming from countries that signed and did not sign bilateral agreements for the control of illegal migration. Consistent with previous studies, we find that the condition of illegality causes an increase in the probability of committing a serious crime in Italy. However such increase is smaller for immigrants subject to a stringent enforcement migration restrictions. This result suggests for the specific case of Italy, the incapacitation effect of expulsions prevails over the increase in the number of crimes committed immigrants that are not expelled.


Pinotti, P., 2015. Immigration enforcement and crime. American Economic Review, 105(5), pp.205-09.



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