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Did Covid-19 lead to an increase in hate crimes towards Chinese people in London?

Chelsea Gray and Kirstine Hansen
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Chelsea Gray: Metropolitan Police and University College London
Kirstine Hansen: University College London

No 20-05, DoQSS Working Papers from Quantitative Social Science - UCL Social Research Institute, University College London

Abstract: There is a long history of research that shows how world events can influence attitudes and behaviours towards whole groups of nations, religions, ethnicities and racial groups. In this paper we examine whether Covid-19, which at the time of writing was widely believed to have originated in China, negatively affected the environment for Chinese people in London leading to an increase in hate crimes towards this group relative to others. We test our hypothesis using data from the Metropolitan Police for the whole of the Metropolitan area of London. We use a difference-in-differences approach to examine what happened to hate crimes against Chinese people in London in the months before (Oct 2019-Dec 2019) and the months after the Covid-19 pandemic (Jan-Mar 2020) relative to other ethnic groups, to other crimes and to other time periods. Our methodology utilises the fact that Covid-19 came as an unexpected shock, which very quickly changed the environment for crime, and did so differentially across ethnicities. We argue that this shock is likely to negatively impact on attitudes and behaviours towards Chinese people, but have no effect on other ethnicities. Our results show that in the months after Covid-19 there was an increase in hate crimes against Chinese people in London, but this increase was not seen amongst the other ethnic groups examined, other non-hate crimes, nor in any other time period. This leads us to conclude that Covid-19 lead to an increase in hate crimes against Chinese people in London.

Keywords: Covid-19; hate crimes; victimisation; Chinese; London (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B41 B55 C01 C12 C25 C52 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-08-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna
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