English title: Usual suspects? Public views about immigrants’ impact on crime in European countries
Author(s): Alin M Ceobanu -
Type: Journal article
Using data from the 2002/3 module of the European Social Survey project, this study examines the relationship between public views about immigrants’ impact on crime and measures of criminal behavior in 21 countries of Europe. The results from hierarchical regression models show that perceptions about immigrants’ impact are unaffected by personal experience with crime and by contextual measures such as the homicide rate, prison population rate, and ratio of foreign inmate to non-European foreign population. The analysis further reveals that perceived immigrants’ impact on crime is sensitive to having friends among immigrants, residing in an ethnic neighborhood, having affinity with right-wing ideologies, as well as several socio-demographic characteristics. At the country level, perceptions that immigrants worsen crime problems are more evident in societies harboring larger stocks of non-European immigrants, but such views are not affected by economic circumstances. These findings imply that Europeans’ expressions of concern regarding immigrants’ impact on crime may be a guised form of prejudice against foreigners, as they seem to be nurtured less by fear of crime and more by fear of immigrants. The reported results are discussed with respect to the restrictiveness of immigration regimes and the practice of criminalizing foreigners.
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Journal: International Journal of Comparative Sociology