Asylum requests, crime and unemployment in Austria

In Austria, a storm is brewing. With the heated political campaigns currently on-going in the Viennese elections, the refugee crisis as they flood through Europe, and the increasingly hate filled rhetoric from the far right parties has led to polarising arguments. One such argument, “Asylum seekers take our jobs and are criminals”, is a gross generalisation and utterly erroneous. If we look at the years 2002 – 2014, we can prove their argument to be false.

asylumrequests_crime_unemployment_by_arythmos

The grey bars in the graphic show you the asylum requests in Austria (according to Statistik Austria) in the concerning years (in steps of 1,000). One can see that after a few low years we are now facing high numbers of asylum requests, similar to 2002. Next to it, you find the crime rate in blue (also by Statistik Austria), this time measured against 1,000 inhabitants. The trend in these 13 years is clear; year after year there is less registered crime happening.

It doesn’t seem important to the crime rate whether there are less asylum applications (2008) or more (2002); the crime rate either basically stays the same or drops. The argument that with more asylum seekers in the country the crime rate rises, is clearly disproved.

Now let’s have a look at the dark blue curve. Those numbers come as well from statistik.at. They show the unemployment rate in Austria by percentage. It is interesting to have a look at the connection between unemployment and asylum seekers, as there is no pattern to be spotted until 2008. Sometimes there are less requests and the unemployment rises, sometimes it is the other way round.

Only from 2009 on-wards it seems as if something else is going on – the requests and the unemployment rate both rise. However, that does not mean that the unemployment rises because of the asylum requests! As from about 2009 on, Austria got hit by the impact of the financial crisis, which also affected the job market. Therefore it is likely that the rise in the unemployment rate is caused by a general economic weakness, rather than the amount of asylum requests. This is also backed up by the numbers from the previous years as there is no link to be found.

All in all, this analysis takes the wind out of the sails of slogans like the one mentioned above and urges us not to believe everything that is written on election posters.

For experts:
Correlation Asylum requests/crime: -0.713 (calculated with absolute numbers)
Correlation Aylum requests/unemployment: -0.203

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