American Sociological Association

Proportion of Foreigners Negatively Predicts the Prevalence of Xenophobic Hate Crimes within German Districts

Statistics show that the increase in the number of refugees to Germany since 2015 was accompanied by an increase in xenophobic hate crimes. We deduced rivaling predictions from intergroup contact and intergroup threat theories that could explain the occurrence of xenophobic hate crimes. By combining structural data of the 402 German districts with the 2015 police crime statistics, we found evidence to support our predictions that aligns with intergroup contact theory: the higher the proportion of foreigners in a district, the lower the prevalence of xenophobic hate crimes. Our analyses further show that the prevalence of xenophobic hate crime attacks was positively related to the total prevalence of registered criminal offenses in a district and was higher in eastern German districts.


Ulrich Wagner, Sarantis Tachtsoglou, Patrick Ferdinand Kotzur, Maria-Therese Friehs, and Uwe Kemmesies





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