Advertisement

Social Indicators Research

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 877–896 | Cite as

Perception or Reality, What Matters Most When it Comes to Crime in Your Neighbourhood?

  • Christopher L. Ambrey
  • Christopher M. FlemingEmail author
  • Matthew Manning
Article

Abstract

Public perceptions of crime and victimisation can influence an individual’s subjective well-being. Research into the impact of the fear of crime and victimisation on subjective well-being, however, has been limited; particularly with respect to the relative contributions of real versus perceived crime towards an individual’s self-reported life satisfaction. Improving our understanding of the relationship between crime and well-being is important, as public resources assigned to reducing or controlling crime could be assigned to addressing other social concerns. This paper extends the literature by exploring the contribution of real and perceived crime in an individual’s local area to their self-reported life satisfaction. Our results indicate that: (1) individuals’ perceptions of crime in their local area are far greater than actual levels of crime; (2) the gap between perceived and real crime is widening as real crime rates fall faster than the perceived rate of crime; (3) real crime rates detract more from an individual’s self-reported life satisfaction than perceived rates of crime; however, (4) perceived rates of crime have an adverse impact on life satisfaction beyond those associated with real crime; and (5) there is significant heterogeneity in the life satisfaction effects of real and perceived crime among groups of individuals. These results, together with empirical evidence highlighting successful strategies for moderating perceptions of crime, facilitate the development of more informed public policy that will improve individual life satisfaction and, ultimately, community well-being.

Keywords

Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey Life satisfaction Perceptions of crime Public policy 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research would not have been possible without the data provided by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The HILDA project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either FaHCSIA or the Melbourne Institute.

References

  1. Adams, R., & Serpe, R. (2000). Social integration, fear of crime, and life satisfaction. Sociological Perspectives, 43(4), 605–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ambrey, C., & Fleming, C. (2013). Life satisfaction in Australia: Evidence from ten years of the HILDA survey. Social Indicators Research,. doi: 10.1007/s11205-11012-10228-11200.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012a). Australian standard geographical classification (ASGC) concordances. Catalogue No. 1216.0.15.002. Canberra.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012b). Gender indicators. Catalogue No. 4125,0. Canberra.Google Scholar
  5. Barton, B., Blenker, A., Smith, L., & Speck, R. (2012). Perceptions of crime in the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood. Minneapolis, MN: The Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  6. Becker, G. (1968). Crime and punishment: An economic approach. Journal of Political Economy, 76(2), 169–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bellair, P., & Browning, C. (2010). Contemporary disorganization research: An assessment and further test of the systemic model of neighborhood crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Deliquency, 47(4), 496–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2001). Do people mean what they say? Implications for subjective survey data. The American Economic Review, 91(2), 67–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blanchflower, D., & Oswald, A. (2004). Well-being over time in Britain and the USA. Journal of Public Economics, 88(7–8), 1359–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brereton, F., Clinch, J., & Ferreira, S. (2008). Happiness, geography and the environment. Ecological Economics, 65(2), 386–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Briddell, L. (2009). Rurality and crime: Identifying and explaining rural/urban differences. Doctoral thesis, Pennsylvania State University.Google Scholar
  12. Cameron, A., & Trivedi, P. (2010). Microeconometrics using stata. College Station, TX: Stata Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cobb-Clark, D., & Schurer, S. (2012). The stability of big-five personality traits. Economics Letters, 115(1), 11–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, M. (2008). The effect of crime on life satisfaction. Journal of Legal Studies, 37(s2), s325–s353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cornaglia, F., & Leigh, A. (2011). Crime and mental wellbeing. Discussion Paper No. 1049. London: Centre for Economic Performance.Google Scholar
  16. Davies, S., & Hinks, T. (2010). Crime and happiness amongst heads of households in Malawi. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(4), 457–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis, B., & Dossetor, K. (2010). (Mis)perceptions of crime in Australia. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice No. 396: Australian Institute of Criminology.Google Scholar
  18. Di Tella, R., & MacCulloch, R. (2008). Gross national happiness as an answer to the Easterlin Paradox? Journal of Development Economics, 86(1), 22–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Duffy, B., Wake, R., Burrows, T., & Bremner, P. (2008). Closing the gaps—crime and public perceptions. International Review of Law, Computers and Technology, 22(1–2), 17–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferguson, K., & Mindel, C. (2007). Modeling fear of crime in Dallas neighborhoods: A test of social capital theory. Crime and Delinquency, 53(2), 322–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., & Frijters, P. (2004). How important is methodology for the estimates of the determinants of happiness? Economic Journal, 114(497), 641–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frey, B., Luechinger, S., & Stutzer, A. (2009). The life satisfaction approach to valuing public goods: The case of terrorism. Public Choice, 138(3–4), 317–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Frey, B., & Stutzer, A. (2002a). Happiness and economics: How the Economy and Institutions Affect Human Well-Being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Frey, B., & Stutzer, A. (2002b). What can economists learn from happiness research? Journal of Economic Literature, 40(2), 402–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Frijters, P., Haisken-DeNew, J., & Shields, M. (2004). Money does matter! Evidence from increasing real income and life satisfaction in East Germany following reunification. American Economic Review, 94(3), 730–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Frijters, P., Johnston, D., & Shields, M. (2011). Life satisfaction dynamics with quarterly life event data. Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 113(1), 190–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Geishecker, I., & Riedl, M. (2010). Ordered response models and non-random personalty traits: Monte Carlo simulations and a practical guide. Germany: Centre for European Governance and Economic Development Research.Google Scholar
  28. Gong, H., Cassells, R., & Keegan, M. (2011). Understanding life satisfaction and the education puzzle in Australia: A profile from HILDA wave 9. NATSEM Working Paper No. 11/12. Canberra: University of Canberra.Google Scholar
  29. Helliwell, J. (2003). How’s life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being. Economic Modelling, 20(2), 331–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Indermaur, D., & Roberts, L. (2005). Perceptions of crime and justice. Australian social attitudes: the first report. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.Google Scholar
  31. Jackson, J. (2004). Experience and expression: Social and cultural significance in the fear of crime. British Journal of Criminology, 44, 946–966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. King, A., & Maruna, S. (2009). Is a conservative just a liberal who has been mugged? Exploring the origins of punitive views. Punishment and Society, 11, 147–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kuroki, M. (2013). Crime victimization and subjective well-being: Evidence from happiness data. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(3), 783–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. MacKerron, G. (2012). Happiness economics from 35 000 feet. Journal of Economic Surveys, 26(4), 705–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Margolis, R., & Myrskyla, M. (2010). A global perspective on happiness and fertility. Working Paper No. 2010-025. Rostock: Max Plank Institute for Demographic Research.Google Scholar
  36. Michalos, A. (2003). Policing services and the quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 61(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Michalos, A., & Zumbo, B. (2000). Criminal victimization and the quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 50(3), 245–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Moller, V. (2005). Resilient or resigned? Criminal victimization and quality of life in South Africa. Social Indicators Research, 72(3), 263–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Moore, S. (2006). The value of reducing fear: An analysis using the European Social Survey. Applied Economics, 38(1), 115–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Moulton, B. (1990). An illustration of a pitfall in estimating the effects of aggregate variables on micro units. Review of Economics and Statistics, 72(2), 334–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Oreopoulos, P. (2007). Do dropout drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling. Journal of Public Economics, 91(11–12), 2213–2229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Powdthavee, N. (2005). Unhappiness and crime: Evidence from South Africa. Economica, 72(287), 531–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Powdthavee, N., & van Praag, B. (2011). Putting different price tags on the same health condition: Re-evaluating the well-being valuation approach. Journal of Health Economics, 30, 1032–1043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Renaur, B. (2007). Reducing fear of crime: Citizen, police, or government responsibility? Police Quarterly, 10(1), 41–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ross, C., & Jang, S. (2000). Neighborhood disorder, fear and mistrust: The buffering role of social ties with neighbors. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28(4), 401–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shields, M., Price, S., & Wooden, M. (2009). Life satisfaction and the economic and social characteristics of neighbourhoods. Journal of Population Economics, 22(2), 421–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stutzer, A., & Frey, B. (2006). Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married? Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(2), 326–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tyler, T., & Boeckmann, R. (1997). Three strikes and you are out, but why? The psychology of public support for punishing rule breakers. Law and Society Review, 31, 237–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Veenhoven, R. (1996). Developments in satisfaction research. Social Indicators Research, 37(1), 1–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Warr, M. (1982). The accuracy of public beliefs about crime: Further evidence. Criminology, 20(2), 185–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Watson, N., & Wooden, M. (2012). The HILDA survey: A case study in the design and development of a successful household panel study. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 3(3), 369–381.Google Scholar
  52. Watson, N., & Wooden, M. (2013). Re-engaging with survey non-respondents: Evidence from three household panels. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society). doi: 10.1111/rssa.12024.Google Scholar
  53. Weatherburn, D., & Indermaur, D. (2004). Public perceptions of crime trends in New South Wales and Western Australia. In Crime and Justice Bulletin: contemporary issues in Crime and Justice No. 80. New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.Google Scholar
  54. Weatherburn, D., Matka, E., & Lind, B. (1996). Crime perception and reality: Public perceptions of the risk of criminal victimisation in Australia. In Crime and Justice Bulletin: Contemporary issues in Crime and Justice No. 28. Sydney: New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher L. Ambrey
    • 1
  • Christopher M. Fleming
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew Manning
    • 1
  1. 1.Social and Economic Research Program (SERP)Griffith UniversityMt GravattAustralia

Personalised recommendations