You know those "gated communities"? The usually upmarket, walled-off residential developments that offer their own amenities and, sometimes, security staff? Well, one assumed advantage of these places is that they're safer than the outside world.But according to an interesting post over at the NRDC, that might not be the case:
Subdivisions secured by gates intended to exclude outsiders may not be safer than those that are fully public. This is because they can lack the social cohesion and interaction with the larger community that for millennia have served as deterrents to crime and other antisocial behavior.
According to the post, the police chief in Charlotte, North Carolina compared crime in gated communities to crime in similar ungated neighborhoods and found no appreciable difference. And to the extent that gated communities are artificial collections of people without real, longstanding relationships between neighbors, they may be more vulnerable to crime because people aren't looking out for each other. To make things worse, being fenced in also increases one's subjective feeling of vulnerability.It doesn't look like there's a proper study behind this. Gated communities probably aren't much less safe than other communities, just less safe than the residents of gated communities think they are. And clearly some of the priciest gated communities are so fortress-like that are very secure. But what's most interesting here is that they tend to be sort of anti-social places and that has real effects on social capital.