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Resident Perceptions of Crime: How Similar are They to Official Crime Rates?

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  • John Hipp

Abstract

This study compares the relationship between official crime rates and residents’ perceptions of crime in census tracts. Employing a unique dataset that links household level data from the American Housing Survey metro samples over a period of 25 years (1976-2000) with official crime rate data for census tracts in selected cities during selected years, this large sample provides considerable ability to generalize the findings. I find that residents’ perception of crime is most strongly related to official rates of tract violent crime. Models simultaneously taking into account both violent and property crime consistently found that property crime actually has a negative effect on perceived crime. Among types of violent crime, the robbery rate is consistently related to higher levels of perceived crime in the tract, whereas it appears a structural shift occurred in the mid-1980s in which aggravated assault and murder rates now impact perceptions of crime, even when taking into account the robbery rate.

Suggested Citation

  • John Hipp, 2007. "Resident Perceptions of Crime: How Similar are They to Official Crime Rates?," Working Papers 07-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:07-10
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2007/CES-WP-07-10.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2007
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    Keywords

    perceived crime; official rates of crime; violent crime; neighborhoods; longitudinal; census tract;

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