Collaborative Research: A National Assessment of Victimization Risk and Crime Reporting

Project: Research project

Project Details


The U.S. crime statistics system historically has not incorporated information about citizenship status, and thus there is little scientific evidence that can inform whether immigrants are more or less likely than native-born Americans to be criminally victimized. Such an information deficit also means we do not know whether immigrants are more or less likely than natives to report crimes to the police. This project capitalizes on a recent redesign of the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which adds information about respondents' citizenship status, to offer the first large-scale comparison of victimization risk and crime reporting among U.S. native-born citizens, naturalized citizens, and non-citizens. The results of the project will reveal how citizenship status shapes personal exposure to crime and decisions about whether to report crimes to the police. Additionally, the project will examine whether these patterns vary among individuals from different racial and ethnic groups and among those who reside in communities with divergent approaches to immigration policy and law enforcement. The project will benefit policy-makers at all governmental levels by providing key information regarding patterns of crime victimization and crime reporting among U.S. residents. Findings will also inform police leadership regarding these patterns, thus contributing to U.S. safety and security.

The project has three primary objectives: (1) to assess the quality of the new self-reported citizenship data in the NCVS for purposes of developing adjustments (if needed) for any observed nonresponse bias; (2) to examine the effect of citizenship status on victimization risk and how it may be conditioned by individual- and community-level factors; and (3) to examine the effect of citizenship status on crime reporting to the police and how it may be conditioned by individual- and community-level conditions. The project will integrate nationally representative individual-level data on victimization and crime reporting from the redesigned 2016-2020 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and community-level data from the American Community Survey (ACS) and a variety of other sources including reports of state immigration legislation, LexisNexis, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) documents. Multivariate logistic regression models will be estimated to achieve project objectives. The results will yield new evidence about the safety and well-being of native-born citizens and foreign-born persons in the context of rapidly changing economic, demographic, and political conditions in the US. The project will which enhance knowledge about the quality of survey-derived measures of citizenship and will provide the first ever assessment at the national level of whether immigrant status is associated with victimization risk and decisions to notify the police about crime incidents. These findings will inform sociological theories regarding crime, immigration and citizenship status, as well as criminological theories related to crime victimization and mobilization of the law, with implications for additional literatures in political science and survey methodology.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date7/15/196/30/22


  • National Science Foundation: $76,240.00


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