Refugee crisis, valuation of life, and violent crime

Timo Kivimäki, Leah Nicholson

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In the study of migrants and violence the focus is often on the likely opportunities and motives of migrants to commit violence, and the effect of this on the level of crime. This article reconstructs the causal path differently. It considers the variation of the number of refugees as a logical proxy of a humane culture and studies the variation in the occurrence of homicides as causally conditioned by this culture.

This article compares European and North American countries during the 2015-2017 refugee crisis. It uses the number of accepted refugees per population, per GDP and per area as proxies of valuation of life among host populations.
Regardless of the type of burden a country will accept to rescue refugees, this willingness is associated with lower levels of homicide. Thus, in developed countries, security from violent crime cannot be an argument against humane refugee policies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfeaa072
Pages (from-to)1747–1765
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • refugees
  • Homicides
  • Crime
  • refugee crisis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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