Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series

    Household Income and Victimization in Canada, 2004

    Canadians living in low-income households more likely than those from higher income households to report socially disruptive conditions in their neighbourhoods

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    Like most Canadians, those from low-income households generally reported feeling safe from crime. However, individuals from households with low incomes were more likely than those from high income households to report socially disruptive conditions in their neighbourhoods. Specifically, problems such as prostitution and public drunkenness were reported at a rate that was about three times higher for the lowest income group compared to the highest income group. Furthermore, problems such as litter; people sleeping on the streets; loud parties; harassment and attacks motivated by racial intolerance; drug use and trafficking; loitering and vandalism were reported twice as often by the lowest income group compared to the highest income group (Table 3).

    Table 3
    Perceptions of neighbourhood social disorder, Canada, 2004

    The socially disruptive conditions reported by Canadians living in low-income households may reflect crime levels in their neighbourhoods. While relatively small, the proportion of Canadians from low-income households who felt their neighbourhoods had higher crime rates than elsewhere was greater than that from higher income households (12% compared to 8%). Results from previous research indicate that crime is concentrated in some neighbourhoods and suggest that certain demographic, socio-economic and functional (i.e., commercial land-use) neighbourhood characteristics are related to variations in neighbourhood crime rates (Savoie, 2008; Charron, 2008). For example, research findings point to a link between neighbourhoods with higher proportions of residents living in low-income situations and higher rates of violent crime (Savoie, 2008).

    Individuals from households in the lowest income group were also more likely than those from the highest income group to feel dissatisfied with their personal safety from crime. Further, Canadians from low-income households expressed higher levels of fear or concern in specific situations such as walking alone at night in their neighbourhood, using public transit after dark, and being at home alone at night (Chart 3).

    Chart 3
    Canadians from low income households more fearful of crime in certain situations

    Canadians from low-income households were more apt to routinely take certain steps to prevent victimization, such as planning travel routes with safety in mind or staying at home at night for fear of going out alone.1 On the other hand, individuals from the highest income group included locking their car doors as part of their safety routine more often than those from the lowest household income group. Perhaps this difference may be related to an increased likelihood of car ownership and the greater risk for property-related victimization among Canadians living in higher income households.


    1. The GSS also asks about the use of other precautionary measures (i.e., the installation of alarm systems, obtaining a dog, taking a self-defence course) throughout one's lifetime. However, since respondents' household economic conditions may vary throughout their lifetime, an analysis of the use of these prevention measures by household income is not presented in the present study.

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