Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Everywhere is going to hell... except here

People tend to have much more pessimistic views about crime trends for their country as a whole than for their local area, a phenomenon I noted held true for statistics from a survey here in Ireland. Browsing a paper by Alex C. Michalos and Bruno D. Zumbo in Social Indicators Research, called Criminal Victimization and the Quality of Life, I found this remark, observing the same effect in Canada:
Just as people typically report that, for example, there is a deterioration in health care all over the country but the care they get from their own physicians is fine, only 41% of our respondents thought that crime had increased in their own neighbourhoods although almost twice as many (78%) thought it had increased in the whole city, 74% thought it increased in local schools and 64% thought it increased in Canada. In fact, according to the most recent report of the Ministry of the Attorney General for the Province of British Columbia (1997: p. 130), the official crime rate per 1000 residents in Prince George decreased every year from 1993 to 1996, and according to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (1996: Table 3.1) the official crime rate per 100000 inhabitants in Canada decreased every year from 1992 to 1996.
I wonder does this hold true everywhere? In particular, might it break down in regions with high illiteracy or limited access to news media? (I presume that the disproportionate reporting of crime by news media is one of the big reasons that people feel more concerned about their wider communities than about their own localities.)

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