Recent crimes against Indian students have people of Indian appearance worried about their personal safety. But are migrants more generally at greater risk of crime?
As the chart below shows, migrants are less likely to have been victims of personal crime, defined as ‘robbery, assault or sexual assault’ in the previous twelve months, than people born in Australia. This holds for all age groups except those aged 60 years and over, for whom crime rates are very low in any case.
Source: ABS, Migrant Data Matrices 2008, derived from 2005 Crime and Safety survey
Nor is this figure distorted by migrants from Britain and other Anglo countries. People from non-English speaking backgrounds and Asian countries in particular are also less likely to be victims of crime (2006 General Social Survey data).
I’m not sure what explains this. Some theories:
* violent crime is more common among uneducated people, while migration criteria favours educated people
* other cultures don’t to the same extent have the moronic booze culture that young Australian men have and which is a factor in a lot of violence
* the appalling intra-communal violence within Aboriginal communities is pushing the Australian-born figure upwards, though I doubt they would have been a large enough part of the sample to have more than a minor effect
While I don’t doubt that there is a racist element in some of the attacks on Indian students, the bigger problem is that young men are prone to violence against other young men.