Confrontations are more likely to be deadly in the US than the UK, finds the United Kingdom Peace Index (UKPI), released today by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). The first-ever UKPI is the second country index produced by IEP and builds on the work of IEP’s US Peace Index (USPI).
The UKPI is the only statistical analysis that provides a comprehensive assessment of peacefulness, the costs associated with violence, and the socio-economic measures associated with peace in the UK, and compares violent crime trends in the US and UK. The report finds that in the US, access to guns contributes to the high portion of homicides by firearms: two out of three homicides are caused by guns.
In the UK, however, only 7% of all homicides are caused by firearms, which is just 1 in 13. While gun violence is geographically distributed all over the US, in the UK over 1/2 of all firearm-related offenses occur in three major urban areas: Metropolitan London, Greater Manchester, and West Midlands.
Overall, levels of violence continue to decrease in both countries, yet rates of homicide and violent crime, in the US and UK respectively, remain high. The homicide rate in the US is one of the worst in the OECD countries (5 per 100,000 people) whereas the violent crime rate in the UK is one of the largest in the same group (800 per 100,000 people).
Homicide and violent crime occur at tremendous cost to the economy. The report finds that reducing homicide and violent crime can have a significant economic impact. If the US could lower its rate of homicides to the UK’s, it would add $38 billion to the economy. If the UK could reduce its violent crime rate by half to be comparable to the US, it would add $35 billion to its economy.
In the 2012 US Peace Index, released last year by IEP, the total cost of violence to the U.S. was conservatively calculated to be over $460 billion while the lost productivity from violence amounted to $318 billion. California was found to have the highest state burden of violence at over $22 billion per year while Vermont has the lowest at $188 million.
For each state taxpayer, the total economic cost of violence varies greatly, from $7,166 per taxpayer in Washington D.C. to $1,281 for Maine taxpayers. “By examining data around peace and violence in different regions, IEP provides a comparative evidence base for addressing key areas of social wellbeing and economic growth,” said Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of IEP.
“What is clear from the data is that the prevalence of guns in the US leads to more deadly confrontations. This contributes to the high levels of homicide that have a huge social and economic cost on the United States. “Moreover, the findings of the UK Peace Index show that poverty and economic opportunity are significantly associated with peace as supported by other international studies including the U.S. Peace Index.
This shows greater emphasis needs to be placed on programs that tackle poverty and related issues such as improving access to education and economic opportunity,” Killelea concluded. The UKPI reinforces findings from the US Peace Index that improving access to employment, health, and education provides protection from the worst effects of poverty and has a significant impact on reducing violence, thus improving general economic activity.
A close correlation between levels of violence was also found with the number of single-parent households, high rates of teenage pregnancy, and low secondary school completion in both the US and UK.
The UKPI and USPI are published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the think-tank behind the Global Peace Index (GPI) — the world’s leading measure of countries’ peacefulness.
The GPI has been released annually since 2007 and is endorsed by many Nobel laureates and leading economists, humanitarians, and politicians worldwide including Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu, Jeffery Sachs, President Jimmy Carter, Joseph Stiglitz, and Sir Richard Branson.
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Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.