Nattavudh Powdthavee, a researcher in the Economics department of the University of Warwick, looked at crime data for "ordinary" crimes such as burglaries, robberies and housebreaking from the October Household Survey (OHS97) of South Africa. Whilst the crime rate there is higher than much of Western Europe - the lessons learned from the data have still have universal application.
His research found that as the regional crime rate for burglaries, robberies and housebreaking rose the anxiety levels of both male and female non-victims increase, making it less likely for the people of either sex to attain the highest levels of happiness. For instance 6.58% of female non-victims attained the highest levels of happiness in areas of minimal crime but this dropped to 5.23% in areas were crime affected 30% of the households.
However he found that that in areas where the regional crime rate reached a point that affected 30% of households then female victims of crimes in those areas were 16% more likely to reach the highest levels of happiness than female victims in areas of minimal crime.
The researcher believes this is because women are more likely than men to share their experiences with others in the community and are more likely to understand and appreciate the level of crime suffered by others in that community. They thus feel slightly less victimised and isolated while indeed are able to support each other.
This finding has obvious consequences for policy makers and suggests that spending on victim support should be spent on efforts that allow victims of crime to meet and share with other victims. This would often bring more benefits in easing peoples stress and fears than simply having professionals working to counsel victims on a one-to-one basis.
For further information contact: Nattavudh Powdthavee, University of Warwick
Tel 44-247-652-8240 or
NB he is teaching 9am -10am UK time Wed 12th Nov but can be contacted the rest of the day