We examine whether Covid-19, which is widely believed to have originated in China, negatively affected the environment for Chinese people in London leading to an increase in hate crimes toward this group relative to others. With 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 (October to December 2019) and the months after the Covid-19 pandemic (January to March 2020) relative to other ethnic groups, to other crimes, and to other time periods. Our methodology utilizes 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 affect attitudes and behaviors toward Chinese people, but has 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, but this increase was not seen among the other ethnic groups, other non hate crimes, or in any other time period. This leads us to conclude that Covid-19 led to an increase in hate crimes against Chinese people in London. That Covid-19 changed behavior toward Chinese people highlights an intrinsic link between Covid-19 and racism. Unfortunately, the rise in hate crime that we identify adds to a growing list of ways in which ethnic minority groups disproportionately suffered, and continue to do so, during the pandemic.

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