Assessing the risk and prevalence of hate crime victimization in Western Europe

John van Kesteren

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    22 Citations (Scopus)
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    This article presents results of multivariate and multi-level analyses of data on hate crime victimization from 14 Western European nations. Although the ethnic composition of immigrant communities shows considerable variation across the 14 countries, in all countries self-defined immigrants are disproportionately exposed to hate crimes. The level of hate crime prevalence is positively correlated with the size of the immigrant communities. The results of a loglinear analysis of individual risks of being victimized by hate crime show that young age and migrant status are the most important independent risk factors of hate crime victimization at the individual level. Other important risk factors are residence in a capital or other large city, low income and an outgoing lifestyle. These risk factors resemble those of victimization by common contact crimes. This result suggests that, although the motivations of offenders are different, the distribution of hate crime victimization at the individual level can to some extent be interpreted through general victimological theories such as lifestyle-exposure theory. These analyses were replicated with a multi-level analysis including data at the macro level on the characteristics of 229 European regions. In this
    analysis, known criminogenic factors of contact crimes at the macro level, such as the proportion of young males, low income and low employment, are included in the models, besides the proportion of migrants among the inhabitants of the region. The results confirm the salience of the previously identified independent risk factors at the individual level. At the macro level, the relative size of migrant communities per region stands out as the most important factor explaining variance in hate crime prevalence. No independent relationships were found between the socio-economic or demographic characteristics of European regions and the extent of hate crime victimization. The latter results confirm findings of similar analyses of data from the USA. They suggest that in Western Europe hate crimes are driven by cultural tensions between traditional inhabitants and immigrants (community defense hypothesis), rather than by the strain experienced by the perpetrators (economic threat hypothesis). The unexpected finding that levels of educational attainment of European regions are associated with higher levels of hate crime victimization cannot be easily interpreted with either of the two hypotheses about the causes of hate crime victimization. It is tentatively interpreted as a measurement artifact resulting from heightened sensitivity to various types of hate crime victimization among better-educated minority groups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages22
    JournalInternational Review of Victimology
    Early online date2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • hate crime
    • migrants
    • victimization survey
    • risk factors
    • multi level analysis
    • integrated threat theory


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