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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Discrete Events and Hate Crimes: The Causal Role of the Brexit Referendum


Objective The article contributes to the literature on discrete events and behavioral change among the public by studying the link between the United Kingdom's 2016 “Brexit”referendum and racial and religious hate crime. Methods Time series intervention models on daily and monthly hate crime numbers from the UK Home Office and police forces, controlling for other events such as terror attacks. A range of robustness tests including additional vector auto-regression. Results The Brexit referendum led to a 19-23 percent increase in hate crimes, but did not lead to a longer-term increase. The results are robust to a range of alternative specifications, and there is no evidence of a relationship between media coverage of hate crime or immigration salience and hate crimes. The results also show the consistent, large effect of terror attacks on increasing the number of hate crimes. Conclusion The Brexit referendum caused an increase in hate crimes on par with terror attacks. Discrete political events, like referendums and elections, can play a sizeable role in prejudicial behavioral change.

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Social Science Quarterly


Daniel Devine (United Kingdom)

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