Social Indicators Research

, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 705–724 | Cite as

Does Municipal Socioeconomic Development Affect Public Perceptions of Crime? A Multilevel Logistic Regression Analysis

  • Elena S. Rotarou


Chile is considered as one of the safest countries in Latin America, with a below-the-average world crime rate. However, during the last few decades, the country has experienced a deterioration in public perceptions of safety. This paper investigates public perceptions of crime in the 52 municipalities of the metropolitan area of Santiago, by employing an index of socioeconomic development for each municipality. Multilevel logistic regression analysis is used in order to assess the impact of individual and municipal-level variables on perceptions of crime in these municipalities. The results show that women exhibit higher perceptions of crime, while people living in rural areas, inactive people, and people with higher education and income have generally lower perceptions. Multidimensional poverty is positively associated with high perceptions of crime, while municipal spending on health and/or education does not show a relationship with perceptions of crime. Regarding socioeconomic development level of municipalities, the results show that people living in municipalities of high development show the lowest perceptions of crime, despite the fact that these municipalities do actually exhibit the highest crime rates, a fact confirming the ‘perception gap’ and the ‘neighbourhood favouritism’ theories. The results and conclusions of this study can be used not only by local policy-makers but also by officials in other cities that—like Santiago—are characterised by high urban segregation.


Public perceptions of crime Metropolitan region of Santiago Chile Municipalities Socioeconomic development Disorder Multilevel logistic regression analysis 



Elena S. Rotarou acknowledges the financial support received by Conicyt-Fondecyt, Postdoctorate Programme, under Project No. 3140481.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile

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