Crime and the Racial Fears of White Americans

Wesley G. Skogan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


This article examines the linkages between fear of crime, residential integration, and racial prejudice among whites. Survey studies confirm that residential proximity to black people is related to whites’ fear of crime. In addition, whites who are prejudiced (in this case, who disapprove of school and neighborhood integration) are more fearful. The fear-provoking effects of proximity and prejudice are independent and, in fact, whites currently living closer to blacks register lower levels of prejudice than do those who live farther away. This is probably due to their ability to use housing markets to distance themselves from minority neighborhoods. Despite the political salience of white fear, blacks are more fearful of crime, due in large measure to the concentration around them of factors that make everyone more fearful. These include neighborhood-level differences in victimization, social disorder, and physical decay. In a highly segregated society, these factors are highly associated with race, so it is difficult to specify which aspects of this bundle—including racial proximity—are affecting white fear as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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