The relationship between crime and life satisfaction : evidence from the Gauteng Province

The present study adds to the rather limited literature on crime and subjective well-being in South Africa by analysing data from the Gauteng Province for the years 2011 and 2015. Using various measures of life satisfaction, this study seeks to answer the following research questions for the Gauteng Province: ‘Does crime have an impact on life satisfaction?’ and ‘How has the relationship between crime and life satisfaction evolved between 2011 and 2015?’ To answer these questions the study estimates an ordered probit model utilizing data from two sources, namely the Quality of Life Survey (QoL survey) conducted by the Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO) and the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) Crime Hub. The estimates are based on four subjective well-being measures (i.e., satisfaction with one’s life as a whole, satisfaction with one’s neighbourhood of residence, satisfaction with one’s standards of living, and satisfaction with the safety/security provided by the government in the neighbourhood of residence) which were regressed against five crime-related measures (i.e., crime rate, being a victim of crime, day, night and safety perceptions at home). The key findings of this study are that crime has a negative effect on subjective well-being. Strong effects were identified for crime victimization on all subjective well-being measures while weak and statistically insignificant effects were identified when a broader measure of crime was used i.e., the crime rate in the neighbourhood of residence. The study also uncovers the importance of perceived safety during the day, night and at home in determining the well-being of Gauteng residents. As feelings of safety deteriorate (i.e., move from fairly safe to very unsafe) subjective well-being tends to reduce as well. This result is generally consistent across all measures of well-being used for both 2011 and 2015. Notably, while the crime rate and percentage of crime victimization has registered some declines the results of this study indicate that crime still plays a very important role in shaping people’s subjective well-being in the Gauteng province.
A research report component contributes 25% towards fulfilment of the Degree in Masters of Commerce (Economics (CCA01)) School of Economic and Business Sciences University of Witwatersrand, 2018
Cordeiro, Martinique (2018) The relationship between crime and life satisfaction: evidence from the Gauteng Province, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>