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

IndicatorSourceCountries
Felt unsafe in home, proportion saying ‘never’Afrobarometer16
Had stuff stolen from home, proportion saying ‘never’Afrobarometer16
Been attacked, proportion saying ‘never’Afrobarometer16
Proportion of respondents who say that ‘in general, most people can be trusted’Asian Barometer10
Proportion of respondents who say that most people try to be fair, rather than take advantage of you when given the chanceAsian Barometer10
Economist Intelligence Unit rating on social distrustEconomist Intelligence Unit121
Percentage respondents feel ‘very safe’ or ‘fairly safe’ walking alone in their area after darkInternational Crime Victim Survey64
Percentage respondents feel ‘very safe’ or ‘fairly safe’ while at home after darkInternational Crime Victim Survey37
Percentage respondents who avoid places when they go outInternational Crime Victim Survey56
Percentage respondents who take company with them when they go outInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced a car theft in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced heft from car in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced damage to car in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced motor theft in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced burglary in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey66
Percentage respondents experienced attempted burglary in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced garage theft in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey28
Percentage respondents experienced robbery in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey66
Percentage respondents experienced personal theft in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced sexual offence in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Percentage respondents experienced assault in last 5 yearsInternational Crime Victim Survey67
Interpol homicide rateInterpol124
Interpol rape rateInterpol54
Interpol rate of serious assaultInterpol57
Interpol rate of aggravated theftInterpol52
Interpol rate of breaking and enteringInterpol57
Interpol vehicle theft rateInterpol59
WHO homicide rateWorld Health Organisation102
Respondent or someone in their family assaulted in the last 12 monthsLatinobarometer19
Percentage of respondents who feel secure in the neighbourhood in which they liveLatinobarometer17
Percentage of respondents who have been the victim of a street crimeLatinobarometer17
Percentage of respondents who have been the victim of burglaryLatinobarometer17
Percentage of respondents who have been the subject of attempted homicideLatinobarometer17
Percentage of respondents who have been the subject of attempted abductionLatinobarometer17
State Department crime advisories, coded 1-5US State Department186 
UNCJIN homicide rateUnited Nations Criminal Justice Information Network116
Percentage of managers surveyed for whom crime is a major business constraintWorld Development Indicators 66
Proportion of respondents who say that ‘in general, most people can be trusted’World Values Survey, Afrobarometer, Latinobarometer86
Proportion of respondents who say that most people try to be fair, rather than take advantage of you when given the chanceWorld Values Survey40
Proportion of respondents who do not very much or do not at all trust their neighbourhoodWorld Values Survey22
Proportion of respondents who do not very much or do not at all trust people they know personallyWorld Values Survey22
Proportion of respondents who do not very much or do not at all trust people they meet for the first timeWorld Values Survey22