Is green space in the living environment associated with people’s feelings of social safety?
Marijke Van Winsum-Westra
Robert A Verheij
Sjerp de Vries
Peter P Groenewegen
The authors investigate whether the percentage of green space in people’s living environment affects their feelings of social safety positively or negatively. More specifically they investigate the extent to which this relationship varies between urban and rural areas, between groups in the community that can be identified as more or less vulnerable, and the extent to which different types of green space exert different influences. The study includes 83 736 Dutch citizens who were interviewed about their feelings of social safety. The percentage of green space in the living environment of each respondent was calculated, and data analysed by use of a three-level latent variable model, controlled for individual and environmental background characteristics. The analyses suggest that more green space in people’s living environment is associated with enhanced feelings of social safety—except in very strongly urban areas, where enclosed green spaces are associated with reduced feelings of social safety. Contrary to the common image of green space as a dangerous hiding place for criminal activity which causes feelings of insecurity, the results suggest that green space generally enhances feelings of social safety. The results also suggest, however, that green space in the most urban areas is a matter of concern with respect to social safety.
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