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Interpersonal Safety and Trust

Interpersonal norms of trust and security exist to the extent that individuals in a society feel they can rely on those whom they have not met before. Where this is the case, the costs of social organisation and collective action are reduced. Where these norms do not exist or have been eroded over time, it becomes more difficult for individuals to form group associations, undertake an enterprise, and live safely and securely.

Studies have shown that societies with norms of trust and trustworthiness experience faster economic growth, have denser civic and associational life, and more effective public institutions, whereas in societies where people must fear violation of their personal and property rights, there are lower rates of new enterprise creation, engagement in associational life, and compliance with public authorities.  

We measure personal security and trust by using data on general social trust from a wide variety of surveys,  indicators of trustworthiness such as reported levels of crime victimisation, survey responses on feelings of safety and security in one’s neighbourhood, data on the incidence of homicide, and risk reports on the likelihood of physical attack, extortion, or robbery.

Data Used

Indicator Source Countries
Felt unsafe in home, proportion saying 'never' Afrobarometer 16
Had stuff stolen from home, proportion saying 'never' Afrobarometer 16
Been attacked, proportion saying 'never' Afrobarometer 16
Proportion of respondents who say that 'in general, most people can be trusted' Asian Barometer 10
Proportion of respondents who say that most people try to be fair, rather than take advantage of you when given the chance Asian Barometer 10
Economist Intelligence Unit rating on social distrust Economist Intelligence Unit 121
Percentage respondents feel 'very safe' or 'fairly safe' walking alone in their area after dark International Crime Victim Survey 64
Percentage respondents feel 'very safe' or 'fairly safe' while at home after dark International Crime Victim Survey 37
Percentage respondents who avoid places when they go out International Crime Victim Survey 56
Percentage respondents who take company with them when they go out International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced a car theft in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced heft from car in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced damage to car in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced motor theft in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced burglary in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 66
Percentage respondents experienced attempted burglary in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced garage theft in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 28
Percentage respondents experienced robbery in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 66
Percentage respondents experienced personal theft in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced sexual offence in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Percentage respondents experienced assault in last 5 years International Crime Victim Survey 67
Interpol homicide rate Interpol 124
Interpol rape rate Interpol 54
Interpol rate of serious assault Interpol 57
Interpol rate of aggravated theft Interpol 52
Interpol rate of breaking and entering Interpol 57
Interpol vehicle theft rate Interpol 59
WHO homicide rate World Health Organisation 102
Respondent or someone in their family assaulted in the last 12 months Latinobarometer 19
Percentage of respondents who feel secure in the neighbourhood in which they live Latinobarometer 17
Percentage of respondents who have been the victim of a street crime Latinobarometer 17
Percentage of respondents who have been the victim of burglary Latinobarometer 17
Percentage of respondents who have been the subject of attempted homicide Latinobarometer 17
Percentage of respondents who have been the subject of attempted abduction Latinobarometer 17
State Department crime advisories, coded 1-5 US State Department 186 
UNCJIN homicide rate United Nations Criminal Justice Information Network 116
Percentage of managers surveyed for whom crime is a major business constraint World Development Indicators  66
Proportion of respondents who say that 'in general, most people can be trusted' World Values Survey, Afrobarometer, Latinobarometer 86
Proportion of respondents who say that most people try to be fair, rather than take advantage of you when given the chance World Values Survey 40
Proportion of respondents who do not very much or do not at all trust their neighbourhood World Values Survey 22
Proportion of respondents who do not very much or do not at all trust people they know personally World Values Survey 22
Proportion of respondents who do not very much or do not at all trust people they meet for the first time World Values Survey 22