Do Refugees Cause Crime?

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Kayaoğlu Yılmaz A.

World Development, vol.154, no.1, pp.1-26, 2022 (SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 154 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2022.105858
  • Journal Name: World Development
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, ABI/INFORM, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, CAB Abstracts, EBSCO Education Source, EconLit, Gender Studies Database, Geobase, Index Islamicus, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-26
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The impact of immigration on crime continues to stir heated debates in public policy circles around the world. Surveys indicate that host societies favor controversial measures because they are concerned about what they perceive to be an impingement exacted on their security with each new wave of migra- tion. Seeking whether there is any truth to such perceptions, this paper analyzes the refugees’ impact on crime rates, using the case of Turkey which has started to host the world’s largest refugee population within any national borders due to the Syrian civil war. In doing so, the paper employs instrumental vari- ables, difference-in-differences (DiD), and staggered DiD methods to explain if the conflict-fleeing Syrians have pushed Turkey’s crime rates higher in the short and the long run. It also controls for a multitude of time-varying provincial characteristics and presents a battery of robustness checks against various iden- tification threats. As a result, DiD estimates show that refugees do not have any causal effect on the crime rates in Turkey. More strikingly, its IV estimates provide evidence for a rather negative effect on the crime rates per capita whilst finding a null effect on the crime rates per native resident in particular.