Posted on December 8, 2022

Europe Shows a Clear Link Between Immigration and Crime

John R. Lott Jr. and James Varney, RealClearInvestigations December 1, 2022

Violent crime is becoming common in Sweden, shocking residents of the famously placid Scandinavian nation, where horrific acts of violence have become “all too familiar,” according to Common Sense Media, part of a Swedish nonprofit organization.

Since 2018, Swedish authorities have recorded an estimated 500 bombings, while what they describe as gang shootings have become increasingly common. The country reported a record 124 homicides in 2020 and many residents were shocked in April when violent riots injured more than 100 police officers.

But Sweden’s crime spike is not an anomaly in Europe, as homicides have risen during the last decade across the European Union, from Hungary and Germany to Denmark and Finland. An analysis of EU and United Nations crime data by RealClearInvestigations shows that, as in Sweden, the broader crime wave is strongly correlated with immigration.

“The country-level data for EU countries keeps track of immigration data that allows you to look at many different places over time in a way that we simply aren’t able to do looking across U.S. states,” said Carl Moody, an economics professor at William & Mary College who specializes in criminology.

Criminal justice experts say that the precision offered by European data may provide guideposts to the United States as it grapples with a host of pathologies ranging from rising violent crime and mass shootings to social disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic. Europe’s experience suggests one avenue of inquiry for policy makers and criminal justice experts is crime directly tied to immigration and drug-trafficking across the porous U.S.-Mexico border.


Over the 10 years from 2012 to 2021, about 41 million people immigrated to the European Union, and of those about 3.8 million, over 9%, are estimated to have done so illegally. Sweden’s largely legal influx of newcomers averaged nearly 130,000 a year from 2012 to 2019, before the country began curtailing immigration in 2020.

Former Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has said the country’s growing problems of gangs and violence are due to its failure to integrate foreign-born residents, whose numbers have doubled during the last two decades to about two million people (or almost 20% of the total population). Sweden’s intelligence chief, Linda H. Staaf, told the BBC in 2019 that many of the perpetrators of crime share a similar profile. “They have grown up in Sweden and they are from socio-economically weak groups, socio-economically weak areas, and many are perhaps second- or third-generation immigrants,” she said.

RCI collected homicide data for the European Union from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for 11 years, from 2010 to 2020, and compared it to rising percentages of each country’s foreign-born population. Even after accounting for variations among countries, the data show that each one percentage point increase in immigrant population is associated with a 3.6 percent increase in the homicide rate.


Homicides across the EU rose by about 8% between 2019 and 2020, with Germany and Hungary experiencing 25% increases. Sweden’s rose by 11%. {snip}


In 2020, Swedish sociology professor Göran Adamson published a crime study showing an unmistakable link to immigration. It concluded that from 2002 to 2017, 58% of criminal suspects in Sweden were immigrants. That figure rose for murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter, where immigrants were identified as suspects in 73% of the cases, and robberies, in which immigrants were suspects in 70% of the cases.

Adamson told RCI that while members of some immigrant groups, such as Vietnamese, were less prone to commit crimes compared with native Swedes, others such as those from the Middle East and Africa – regions that account for most of the immigration to Sweden – were much more likely to do so. Overall, Adamson’s study concluded that Sweden’s murder rate had quadrupled due to immigration. {snip}

Researchers in Denmark reached similar conclusions about immigration and crime. An index shows that crime in 2020 was 51% higher among male immigrants and 149% higher among male offspring with a non-Western background than among the entire male population.

In Norway and Finland, too, higher incidence of crime is also found in immigrant populations, according to recent research. Similar data on the citizenship status of people arrested or in jail is rarely collected in the U.S. One state where data is collected, Texas, shows that illegal aliens are convicted of homicide 32% more frequently than the rest of the Texas population. The rate for sexual assault is 91% higher.