14th journées Louis-André Gérard-Varet

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The Violent Legacy of Con ict: Evidence on Asylum Seekers, Crimes and Public Policy in Switzerland
Mathieu Couttenier, Veronica Preotu, Dominic Rohner, Mathias Thoenig

Last modified: 2015-05-11

Abstract


Political violence and wars are often recurrent, and anecdotes suggest that war exposuremakes people more violence-prone in the aftermath. It is however very hard to distinguishbetween the impact of contextual factors, sample selection and war exposure, and to identify acausal impact of war exposure on future violence. In this empirical paper we exploit a uniquequasi-natural experiment on asylum seekers and crime in Switzerland, using a novel datasetover the period 2009-2012. Our identication strategy relies on the fact that asylum seekers areexogenously allocated across Swiss cantons (i.e. districts) and that public policies are designedat the canton-level. We rst document that immigrants originating from countries with warhistory are more crime prone. Using a precise measure of individual war victimization, wend that the eect remains strong and signicant, even when controlling for country-of-origintimes arrival year xed eects, as well as canton times year xed eects. Using dyadic data onboth the origin of the perpetrator and the victims of all crimes committed during this periodin Switzerland, we are able to say more about potential mechanisms at work. Further, wedisplay external validity by replicating the ndings on the violent legacy of conict exposurefor all Swiss immigrants, which account for more than a fth of Swiss population. Finally, wealso evaluate the eciency of various public policies aiming at fostering integration for copingwith this imported violence. We conclude that the right public integration policies are able tostrongly mitigate the eect of war background on immigrants' crime rates.

Keywords


Crime, Persistence of violence, War exposure, Civil War, Con ict, Migration, Refugees, Immigrants.