The politics of fear and relationship with the effective level of crime and socioeconomic issues: Empirical analysis of a case study



Abstract. The goal of this study is to analyze if a perceived risk of crime and social issues is supported by effective levels of empirical data. This study focuses on a vital case study, Italy that is one of the largest economies in Europe with socioeconomic issues also with a high flows of immigration from Africa and Middle East. Descriptive statistics and non-parametric analyses are applied on data from EUROSTAT and UNODC over a period from 2000 to 2019. Although levels of crime and immigration are declining over time, perceived risk of these social issues is high. In general, the perceived risk of crime seems to be overestimated. The only factor of concern in Italian economy for population is the increasing level of unemployment that can be a source of social issues. These results seem to be due to misleading information diffused by some political parties with media that induce people to overestimate perceived risk of crime and immigration: the politics of fear. The findings of this paper can provide a preliminary analysis and encourage the development of more in-depth studies to better understand the sources of fear of crime due to social issues and their possible interrelationships with social and political contexts in order to support appropriate policies in society.

Keywords. Violent crime, Homicide, Sexual violence, Fear of crime, Perceived risk, Vulnerability, Immigration, Poverty, Europe, Political party, Politics of fear.

JEL. I30, D63, F60.


Violent crime; Homicide; Sexual violence; Fear of crime; Perceived risk; Vulnerability; Immigration; Poverty; Europe; Political party; Politics of fear.

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