In search of fear : A study examining the potential of using Google Trends data to estimate the fear of crime in Sweden during 2011-2019

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Nationalekonomiska institutionen

Author: Karl Lindberg; [2020]

Keywords: Fear of crime; Google Trends; Metadata;

Abstract: Fear of crime is an important topic in research as well as in public opinion. However, data on fear of crime is limited and difficult to collect, being heavily reliant on surveys with different methods of operationalization yielding different results. This paper aims to investigate if an alternative method can be used to estimate fear of crime. Using a large representative unique data on fear of crime from Google Trends, I analyze if fear of crime can be estimated in Sweden during years 2011-2019, using The Swedish Crime Survey as benchmark. The results show that the method is accurate for country-level and the most populated regions of Sweden, but less so for the lesser populated regions. This method can be used to estimate fear of crime in a time- and money-efficient way, producing daily estimates at little to no cost.

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