:An anti goverment protester flashes a victory sign during the clashes between protestors and riot police on Taksim square in Istanbul on June 22, 2013.
An organization that tracks the state of peace around the world says the United States is not one of the world’s 100 most peaceful countries.
The U.S. briefly held spot #97 in the annual Global Peace Index, which is produced by Vision of Humanity, but an ever-increasing incarceration rate combined with the Boston Bombing contributed to a drop to sub-100 levels.
While the concept of "peace" is a hard one to judge, the group claims it uses 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators to rank the countries and compute a final score.
Some of those indicators, such as America’s lack of gun control, possession of nuclear arms, participation in a number of military conflicts, a low percentage of women in political office and terrorism — the Boston Bombing, specifically — contributed negatively to the U.S.’s GPI score.
But it was, in fact, America’s high incarceration rate that proved the biggest drag on its peace score, the report says.
“Almost 25% of all prisoners in the world are in the U.S., despite the fact the U.S. has only 5% of the world’s population.“Almost 25% of all prisoners in the world are in the U.S., despite the fact the U.S. has only 5% of the world’s population. Harsh drug laws are one of the main reasons why the prison population has more than tripled since 1980,” it states. “In addition, prosecution has become more efficient, meaning that those arrested are more likely to go to jail than in the past, and the authorities have increased the length of prison sentences.”
The group estimates the United States’s national cost of violence at $1,713,095,000,000.
The U.S., a “stable democracy, with well-established institutions” has a high degree of militarization that also hurts its peace score, the report says. “As the world’s largest economy and military power, the US is prone to being drawn into new conflicts, as an act of strength, on humanitarian grounds or to protect its economic or geo-strategic interests."
The countries that are doing peace right, at least according to the report, are Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, and Switzerland.
On the other side of the list, we find the least peaceful countries in the world: Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. Ukraine and Egypt, countries still in the midst of their revolutions, were two of the biggest fallers, degrading the most since the 2013 report.
Overall, the world has become 4% less peaceful since 2008, the report finds, as terrorist activity, conflicts and the number of refugees all continue to rise — violence that contributes a significant hit to the overall global economy.
According to Vision of Humanity, the economic impact of the consequences of global violence in 2013 was estimated to cost $9.8 trillion — a number that is equivalent to 11.3% of the global GDP, and twice the combined GDP of the entire African continent.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.