Immigration and Neighborhood Crime: The Moderating Influence of City Labor Instability

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The bulk of extant work finds that immigrant prevalence helps to reduce neighborhood levels of serious crime. These findings align with the “immigrant revitalization thesis” in which states that immigration reduces crime by strengthening social ties and attendant social controls as well as stimulating the local economy. Also, a city’s conditions are shown to be a substantial moderator for the immigration-crime nexus. Thus, this study tests whether labor instability at the city level shapes the immigration-crime relationship, and whether this interaction differs by gateway status. Using the National Neighborhood Crime Study (NNCS) which provides information on crime as well as demographics for 87 cities across 8,931 neighborhoods, I fit multilevel models for violent and property crime, and for gateway and non-gateway cities. This paper finds that in cities with a higher level of labor instability, immigrant prevalence is associated with reductions in neighborhood level of violent crime, but not property crime. This interaction effect is significant for violent crime regardless of cities’ gateway status but not for property crime.