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Who wants safer cities? Perceptions of public safety and attitudes to migrants among China's urban population


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  • Nielsen, Ingrid
  • Smyth, Russell


Most extant research in the economics of crime literature has focused on explaining variations in crime rates. Public action to prevent crime, however, is often dependent on the level of concern about public safety that is expressed in public perceptions surveys. The economics of crime literature has largely overlooked responses to such surveys as data sources and therefore it has not accounted for the role that public opinion might have in mobilizing public action against crime. We use a unique survey administered in 2003 in 32 Chinese cities to examine the determinants of perceptions of public safety among China's urban population. One of our major findings is that individuals who have a negative perception of rural-urban migrants living in their city have a poor perception of public safety. We also find that the unemployment rate, the masculinity ratio and expenditure on armed police in the city in which the individual resides, whether the individual lives in the coastal region as opposed to the central or western region and average changes in housing prices and average changes in rental prices in the city in which the individual lives are important predictors of perceptions of public safety.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 28 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 46-55

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Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:28:y:2008:i:1:p:46-55

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Cited by:
  1. Russell Smyth & Ingrid Nielsen & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Personal Well-being in Urban China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 231-251, January.
  2. R Todd Jewell & Natalia Melgar & David J. Molina & Máximo Rossi, 2009. "Attitudes toward immigrants: a cross-country perspective," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0309, Department of Economics - dECON.
  3. Cheung, Nicole W.T., 2013. "Rural-to-urban migrant adolescents in Guangzhou, China: Psychological health, victimization, and local and trans-local ties," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 121-129.


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