Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




R.J. Richardson


It has been observed that women and elderly people in Britain, Canada, and the United States of America are more likely to feel unsafe while out alone in their neighbourhoods at night than men and younger people are. Explanations for this phenomenon are developed and tested in this dissertation. Some of the explanations are developed on the basis of three causes that scholars have postulated to account for people feeling unsafe while out alone in their neighbourhoods at night: fear of crime, perceived risks of criminal victimization, and perceived vulnerability to crime. Other explanations are developed on the basis of arguments put forward to account for fear of crime. According to these explanations, women and elderly people are especially likely to feel unsafe, either due to their intending to avoid criminal victimization, or due to their social positions, their exposure to incivility, and their disenchantment with their communities' enforcement of civility. Moment structure models are devised to express the various explanations for the tendency of women and elderly people to feel unsafe. The models are tested using data from the British Crime Surveys of 1984 and the Fear of Crime in America Survey of 1990. None of the explanations that are examined cover the data.

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