In this article, we examine anti-foreigner hate crime in the wake of the large influx of asylum seekers to Germany in 2014 and 2015. By exploiting the quasi-experimental assignment of asylum seekers to German regions, we estimate the causal effect of an unexpected and sudden change in the share of the foreign-born population on anti-foreigner hate crime. Our county-level analysis shows that not simply the size of regional asylum seeker inflows drives the increase in hate crime, but the rapid compositional change of the residential population: Areas with previously low shares of foreign-born inhabitants that face large-scale immigration of asylum seekers witness the strongest upsurge in hate crime. Economically deprived regions and regions with a legacy of anti-foreigner hate crimes are also found to be prone to hate crime against refugees. However, when we explicitly control for East–West German differences, the predominance of native-born residents at the local level stands out as the single most important factor explaining the sudden increase in hate crime.
Entorf, Horst und Martin Lange (2019), Refugees Welcome? Understanding the Regional Heterogeneity of Anti-Foreigner Hate Crimes in Germany, ZEW Discussion Paper Nr. 19-005, Mannheim.