• The editor in charge of this paper was Orazio Attanasio.

  • Acknowledgments: We wish to thank the editor and three anonymous referees for very constructive feedback on an earlier version of this paper. We also thank Massimiliano Bratti, Matteo Cervellati, Antonio Ciccone, Federico Cingano, Francesco Drago, Andrea Ichino, Giovanni Mastrobuoni, Ugo Melchionda, Franco Peracchi, Alfonso Rosolia, Andrea Tiseno, and seminar participants at the Bank of Italy, CEIS Tor Vergata, IMT Lucca, Paris School of Economics, University of Milan, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, ESPE (London), NASM (Pittsburgh), FEMES (Singapore), EEA (Milan), AIEL (Brescia), Brucchi Luchino Workshop (Bologna) for their useful comments, Giuseppe Casamassima of the Italian Ministry of the Interior for providing the data on residence permits and Giovanni Peri for the data on bilateral migration flows. All errors are our responsibility. Financial support from CEPREMAP and from Region Ile-de-France (Milo Bianchi) is gratefully acknowledged. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Bank of Italy.

  • E-mail: (Bianchi); (Buonanno); (Pinotti)


We examine the empirical relationship between immigration and crime across Italian provinces during the period 1990–2003. Drawing on police administrative records, we first document that the size of the immigrant population is positively correlated with the incidence of property crimes and with the overall crime rate. Then, we use instrumental variables based on immigration toward destination countries other than Italy to identify the causal impact of exogenous changes in Italy’s immigrant population. According to these estimates, immigration increases only the incidence of robberies, while leaving unaffected all other types of crime. Since robberies represent a very minor fraction of all criminal offenses, the effect on the overall crime rate is not significantly different from zero.