Maine ranked the most peaceful state in recent study
In a recent nationwide report, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) gave Maine the honorific title of “Most Peaceful State.” New Hampshire came in second in the rankings. This report represents the first time that a study has ranked states according to their peacefulness.
The IEP found that states in the Northeast tend to be the most peaceful, while states in the South, such as Louisiana and Tennessee are the least peaceful. Virginia holds a place in the middle of the rankings; it is listed as the twenty-fifth most peaceful state in the nation. States that are the site of current border conflicts, such as Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, receive lower rankings in the IEP’s report.
The IEP based its rankings on several different factors, including homicide rates, violent crimes, jail populations, number of police officers and the availability of small arms. The Institute’s researchers obtained their statistics through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Justice and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Ultimately, the IEP decided to describe peacefulness as an overall lack of violence.
"We define peace as the absence of violence,” Michelle Breslauer, the spokesperson for the IEP, said in a press release. “Normally, people think [about peace] in terms of the absence of war, but we believe it correlates to violence in society. If we can identify the roots [of violence] and measure [them], we can learn [about] the commonalities. There is a strong correlation between peace and economic development."
The IEP asserts that there is also a connection between peace and economic opportunity, education and health.
In the process of creating the report, the IEP also calculated the per-person cost of violence. Its researchers determined this number by taking into account the costs of correctional and policing services, the costs associated with the judicial system, the medical expenses resulting from violent crimes and homicides and lost productivity and wages.
In Maine, the total cost of violence per person is $656. New Hampshire, which ranks with the IEP as the second most peaceful state, has a total per-person cost of violence of $751. On the other end of the spectrum, the total cost of violence per person in the IEP’s least peaceful state, Louisiana, is $2,458.
In the course of its research, the IEP found that over the past 15 years, America has become significantly more peaceful. This trend is reflected in today’s notably reduced rates of both homicide and violent crime.
According to the IEP, if the United States were to become more peaceful, the country could save money and increase its productivity. “Reductions in violence, crime and incarcerations to the levels [reported in] Canada would result in $361 billion in savings and additional economic activity,” the report said. “This additional economic activity has the potential to create 2.7 million jobs, which would significantly reduce unemployment.”
The IEP generates a global peace index each year. 2011’s report marks the first time that the Institute has ever created a national peace index. The decision to conduct an exclusive study of the United States was due to the country’s large economy and diverse population.
The complete IEP study is available online at www.visionofhumanity.org.