Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If you believe the Evergreen State is peaceful, now there’s data to support that claim

Can the level of peace in a state be measured? The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) says it can and has issued the first ever United States Peace Index (USPI).

The Index defines peace as “the absence of violence,” and to rank the states, it looked at a set of five indicators per 100,000 people:
• Homicide rates
• Violent crimes
• Percentage of the population in jail
• Number of police officers
• Availability of small arms

According to the USPI, a state’s ranking is strongly correlated with 15 socioeconomic factors, including high school graduation rates, infant mortality, access to basic services, labor force participation rates, and rates of poverty and teenage pregnancy, while median income and political affiliation don’t have an impact on a state’s level of peace.

The USPI ranks Maine as the nation’s most peaceful state, Washington is tenth and Louisiana is the least peaceful state.

“The Index underlines the negative impact of violence on our economy, and reinforces the idea that minimizing violence, through job creation programs and increased access to education and healthcare, dramatically increases the prospects for growth,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. “We should be mindful of this when proposing domestic discretionary spending cuts that will not only disproportionately impact those most vulnerable to violence and poverty, but will also hinder our collective prosperity.”

Kennedy’s comment is timely as many states, including ours, are struggling with insufficient revenues.

To learn more about the USPI and to check out how other states rank, go here.