Canadian Criminologist Praises Immigration’s Crime Fighting Effect

The drop in the Canadian crime rate since the early 1990s corresponds with an increase in immigration levels, a relationship criminologist Michael Kempa attributes to the strong family bonds of recent immigrants and the value they place on education and civic responsibility

In a special to, one of Canada’s largest online news publications, criminologist Michael Kempa says immigration is helping reduce the crime rate in Canada.

Kempa writes that the drop in the crime rate since the 1990s has corresponded to, and been helped by, a large increase in the rate of immigration.

He quotes Toronto Police chief Bill Blair as saying that “immigration is good for the crime rate”.

The reason? “Recent immigrants have strong bonds to their families, a commitment to the values of education and engagement in community and public institutions,” says Kempa.

The down-side is that as the immigrant groups integrate into Canadian communities and adopt Canadian culture, their crime and delinquency rates approach the Canadian average.

Kempa recommends to Canadians to try to adopt the values of strong family bonds and commitment to education and community/public-institutions that keep recent immigrant groups away from crime.

This is the second story in the past year by major Canadian news media trumpeting the crime-reducing effects of immigration. MacLean’s magazine published a story last summer on findings by University of Toronto researchers that link increased immigration with reduced crime rates.

Crime Rate in Canada at 40 Year Low, Still Above 1962 Levels

Canada's crime rate is now at a 40 year low, after eight consecutive years of declines in the incidence of police-reported crime (UNODC)

Statistics Canada reported this week that the incidence of police reported crime declined 6 percent in 2011 from the previous year, and is now at the lowest level it has been since 1972.

The Crime Severity Index, which measures the severity of crime, also fell 6 percent, while the Violent Crime Severity Index, which measures the severity of only violent crimes, dropped 4 percent, continuing a two decade long downward trend in crime rate metrics.

Canada’s crime rate was 3,000 incidents per 100,000 residents in 1962, but then rapidly increased through the 1960s and 70s. The increase in the crime rate slowed in the 1980s and finally reached its peak in 1991, before beginning its 20 year decline to the present.

The current rate of 6,000 incidences of crime per 100,000 residents is 40 percent lower than the 1991 peak, but still double the rate in 1962, a fact that the federal Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, stressed on his Twitter account after announcing the milestone.

“Rate is still 208% above 1962 levels, more work for our gov’t to do,” Toews tweeted.

The Statistics Canada report showed Manitoba and Saskatchewan with the highest Crime Severity Index among the provinces, and Ontario the lowest.

Much of the violent crime in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is concentrated in the provinces’ sizable native communities which have been racked by high rates of alcoholism and violence for decades.

Immigration’s Crime-Reducing Effect Gets Media Attention

Chinatown in Toronto. A growing visible minority proportion has coincided with a decline in the crime rate in Toronto. (chensiyuan)

Study findings suggesting that immigration reduces crime have been picked up today by the online version of MacLean’s magazine, one of Canada’s largest weekly news magazines, in an article, Does immigration reduce crime?

One study referenced, conducted by researchers Ronit Dinovitzer and Ron Levi at the University of Toronto, compared the rate of youth delinquency in a group of 900 teenagers, 66 percent of whom were non-European immigrants, in a Toronto community in 1999, to the rate found in a group of 835 teenagers in the same community, but twenty three years earlier, when only 10 percent of respondents came from an immigrant background.

The findings show a significantly lower rate of youth delinquency, which includes activities like smoking marijuana, getting into fights and stealing cars, in the newer cohort of teenagers over the older, less ethnically diverse cohort.

Another finding by Statistics Canada shows a strong negative correlation between the rate of violent crime in Montréal neighbourhoods, and the proportion of the neighborhood’s population that is made up of recent immigrants.

The more general correlation that advocates of the ‘immigration reducing crime’ theory point to is the nation-wide decline in the crime rate since the 1970s, when immigration levels were significantly increased by the Trudeau government and maintained by governments since. Major Canadian cities like Toronto have seen their crime rates decline by up to 50 percent since 1991, as their proportion of foreign born residents, now at 50 percent in Toronto, has increased.