US Peace Index

On 24 April the second annual edition of the United States Peace Index was launched by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a non-profit research organization "dedicated to shifting the world's focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress".

This 2012 US Peace Index highlights the US's most and least "peaceful states and cities". More precisely, the index examines levels of "peacefulness" at the state and city levels, while also looking at the costs associated with violence and the socio-economic measures associated with peace. In fact, it claims to be the only fullfledged statistical analysis of crime and the cost of crime in the US, looking into 50 states and 61 cities.

On the website of the US Peace Index, which also offers an interactive map and an explanatory video, we find that "peacefulness" is defined according to five indicators: the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, number of police employees, and the availability of small arms.

Important conclusions of the index include that the US is currently more peaceful than at any other moment in the past 20 years and that further improvements in peacefulness would generate hundreds of billions of extra economic activity. Hence, the index provides us with both some good news and an interesting suggestion, one which could be particularly appealing in times of economic crisis. Based on the data provided one could argue that, rather than cutting heavily on peace related activities, governments should actually seek further improvements in peacefulness. In fact, it is particularly right now, in times of economic crisis, that the relationship between poverty and peace deserves special attention.