The built environment and community crime risk interpretation

Pamela Wilcox, Neil Quisenberry, Shayne Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


In this article, the authors examine whether subjective perceptions of community safety are informed by the built environment. They posit that the built environment serves as a heuristic device, providing cues about likely levels of neighborhood crime, independent of the effects of neighborhood crime itself. Using data on 4,456 individuals nested within 100 census tracts, the authors estimate hierarchical logistic models of perceived community crime risk. They focus on the role of the neighborhood built environment in the form of aggregated perceptions of nonresidential land use, while controlling for individual-level criminal opportunity, community-level social structural antecedents, and community-level objective crime. The findings indicate that the neighborhood-level presence of businesses and parks and playgrounds increases individual perceptions of community danger, but these effects disappear once neighborhood crime rates are controlled. The presence of schools has no effect on subjective interpretations of community crime, regardless of whether actual area crime is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-345
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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