Refugee Admissions and Public Safety: Are Refugee Settlement Areas More Prone to Crime?

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Cynthia Bansak, and Susan Pozo

IZA Discussion Paper Series, No. 11612 (2018)


In the United States, growing skepticism about refugees has resulted in expressed concerns regarding their impact on public safety and the possibility that they might bring with them the terror and crime that afflicts many of their countries of origin. The authors examine whether there is any basis for the fears that refugees may commit acts of terrorism or engage in criminal behavior. The authors exploit the variation in the geographic and temporal distribution of refugees across counties in the United States to ascertain if there is a link between refugee settlements and local crime rates or terrorist events in the United States. The authors fail to find any statistically significant evidence of a connection between the presence of refugees and local crime rates or terrorist events in the Unites States. The results are robust to focusing on counties receiving larger refugee inflows or to restricting analysis to refugees from specific national origins.