Jobs, Crime, and Votes – A Short-run Evaluation of the Refugee Crisis in Germany

Markus Gehrsitz and Martin Ungerer

ZEW Discussion Papers, No. 16-086 (2018)


This paper examines the short-run impacts of refugee inflows in 2014/2015 on labor markets, crime, and voting behavior in Germany. The authors exploit exogeneous variations in the number of refugees per county within and across states. Key findings:

  • Refugees are unlikely to have displaced native workers; if anything, the employment prospects of natives appear to have been positively affected. However, larger inflows of refugees are associated with increases in non-German unemployment, suggesting that refugees have themselves struggled to find gainful employment.
  • Evidence of a small positive effect of refugee inflows on crime rates; in particular counties with bigger reception centers have seen increases in drug offenses and violent crime, as well as the number of non-German suspects in relation with these crimes, although this finding might partly be driven by higher alertness of police in these counties.
  • While at the macro level increased migration was accompanied by increased support for anti-immigrant parties, at the local level higher refugee inflows might depress support for the main anti-immigrant party, AfD.

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