Köber, G., & Oberwittler, D. (2018). How older people became less afraid of crime : an age-period-cohort analysis using repeated cross-sectional survey data. Social Science Research, 79, 211–225. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.010
One of the most robust predictors of fear of crime is age: Older people tend to be more fearful. Yet, many questions beyond the basic cross-sectional relationship remain unexplored. We investigate cohort effects on fear of crime, applying graphical analyses and a version of the hierarchical age-period-cohort (HAPC) analysis to eight waves of the German subset of the European Social Survey. We hypothesize that health improvements and the educational expansion in postwar Germany led to a decreasing cohort trend, and that children exposed to traumatic experiences and adverse living conditions during and after World War II report higher levels of perceived insecurity throughout the life course. We argue that cross-sectional age differences are, in fact, to a large extent cohort effects, mediated by improved self-rated health and increasing education. The analyses also unveil a recent period effect after 2014. These novel findings add considerably to the understanding of the temporal dynamics of fear of crime.