Migration, not migrants, is the problem: Delinquency among migrants and non-migrants in Switzerland and ex-Yugoslavia

Author(s) : Martin Killias, Anastasiia Lukash

Source : https://doi.org/10.1177/1477370819828329


« The nexus between migration and crime has been studied over nearly a century across many countries from all continents. Research has concentrated on comparisons of migrants (or their offspring) with natives. Comparisons between migrants and comparable samples from their countries of origin have not been undertaken so far, however, because data were usually limited to the host country. The International Self-Reported Delinquency Study (ISRD-3, Enzmann et al., 2018) allows this gap to be overcome. In Switzerland, with its large immigrant minority – one student in two has roots in a foreign country – migrants of different backgrounds can be compared with native Swiss and with students who attend schools in ex-Yugoslavia where many migrants are from. We compare data on self-reported offences and victimization in the family collected through interviews with some 4000 juveniles in Switzerland and more than 6000 students of the same age in four countries of ex-Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia). Native-born youths in Switzerland report fewer offences than their immigrant peers, including those from ex-Yugoslavia. Although differences between students from ex-Yugoslavia and other foreign countries are relatively small, juveniles in ex-Yugoslavia report far lower offending rates than immigrants of the same age in Switzerland. Their rates are similar or lower than among native Swiss students. Further, rates of physical punishment and maltreatment are higher among immigrants than among non-migrants in Switzerland and in ex-Yugoslavia. We conclude that cultural background is unrelated to delinquency and parental punishment, but the experience of migrating goes along with violence within the family and self-reported offending. Differences exist between various family constellations, students born or with at least one parent born in Switzerland committing fewer offences and experiencing less parental violence. »
Keywords:  Juvenile delinquency, migration, migrants, parental punishment, self-report delinquency


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