A Criminology and Delinquency study released last week found that second generation immigrants have “striking similarities” to their native-born, non-Hispanic white counterparts when it comes to committing crime. In fact, when it comes to crime rates, second-generation offenders are merely “catching up” to the native-born population, as the Pew Research Center’s data blog Fact Tank reported.
Biance E. Bersani conducted the study using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, and found that criminality peaks at the age of 16 for 25 percent of the native-born population and a little less than 25 percent for second-generation immigrants. Meanwhile, 17 percent of 16 year old first-generation immigrants committed crime. Overall, first-generation immigrants commit crime at a lower rate than second-generation and native-born, non-Hispanic whites.
Bersani’s study helps to dispel previous theories that some second-generation immigrants exhibit criminal behavior solely because they live in “two colliding worlds” — they purportedly act out because they are caught between conflicting family and social expectations. Rather, the study shows that second-generation immigrants are subjected to the same influences as their native born counterparts through both positive and negative ways — such as higher incomes and home ownership in the former case and susceptibility to peer pressure in the latter instance.
She also finds that, “having peers in a gang increased the probability that an individual had been arrested in the previous year by 23% for second-generation immigrants and 25% for native-born non-Hispanic whites.”
The article has been changed to reflect that the study came from a Criminology and Delinquency journal, not from the Pew Research Center.