Public action to prevent crime is often driven by concerns about public safety. But what generates those concerns? Is it crime, or something else? Using survey data for Brazil, we find that the desire for greater public safety has a positive own-income effect, but a negative neighborhood-income effect; living in a poor area increases concern for public safety at given own-income. The own-income effect is non-linear, such that inequality attenuates the aggregate concern for greater safety. Education raises concern, and strongly so when neighbors are poorly educated. Controlling for these factors, we identify a significant causal effect of lack of public safety on the desire for greater safety. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.