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Upbringing not culture affects criminality: study

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16:06 CET+01:00
Differences in crime statistics between immigrants and those born in Sweden can be explained by socio-economic factors in childhood and has nothing to do with culture or race, a new Swedish study has shown.

The study by researchers at Stockholm University shows that any differences disappear when a comparison is made between Swedes and immigrants who were brought up in similar socio-economic conditions.

"The differences do not depend on 'immigrant cultures' being more inclined to crime or some such. Instead the most decisive factor is the conditions immigrants live under in Sweden and if they can acquire the resources which are necessary to live a comfortable life," one of the researchers Jerzy Sarnecki told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

The study shows that when controlled for factors such as parents' education, employment and income then the differences for the most part disappear between those born in Sweden and those born overseas or with foreign-born parents.

Sarnecki explained that the most important factor is that immigrants are able to find a job when they arrive in Sweden.

"Then their children will be much better off," he said.

The slight differences which do remain in the crime statistics could perhaps be explained by discrimination within the justice system, Sarnecki said.

The research team has mapped the lives of 66,300 people who left school 1990-1993 until 2005. Criminal histories have been compared to socio-economic conditions experienced during childhood.

There is furthermore no scientific evidence to suggest that differences in criminal behaviour can be linked to countries of origin.

"That criminal behaviour within various immigrant groups could be explained by cultural differences is something we can dismiss entirely," Jerzy Sarnecki said.

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