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Fear of crime and older people in low- and middle-income countries


This paper analyses data from the World Health Organization's Study on Global AGEing and Adult Health (SAGE) on the prevalence of reported fear of crime at home and on the street among older people in China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa. SAGE provides nationally representative data for 35,125 people aged 50 and over. These reveal large national variations in reported crime fear: for example, 65 per cent of older South Africans felt unsafe on the street, compared to only 9 per cent of older Ghanaians. The paper examines factors potentially associated with crime fear, including age, socio-economic status and frailty, and relates these to different theoretical models of crime fear. Female sex and frailty are associated with higher rates of crime fear across the study countries. Other associations are less consistent, e.g. urban residence is associated with higher levels of fear in some countries and lower levels in others. The paper considers the potential effects of crime fear on mobility beyond the home, health status and quality of life. A strong association is found for mobility, but effects on health and quality of life are harder to interpret as the direction of causality can be two-way. Overall, the paper demonstrates the potential impact of crime fear on older people's wellbeing and highlights a need for further, more contextualised research.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK E-mail:
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