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Global Peace Index: Violence costs Costa Rica nearly $4 billion every year

June 29, 2015

Violence costs Costa Rica nearly $4 billion annually, according to a new report. The 2015 Global Peace Index sought to quantify the economic impact of violence around the world and ranked nations by how peaceful they are. Costa Rica ranked the third most peaceful country in the Americas after Canada and Uruguay. Costa Rica scored 34th in the world.

Costa Rica spent an estimated $3.9 billion on violence-related expenses and lost productivity in 2014, roughly 6 percent of its GDP, according to the index. Published by the think tank Institute for Economics and Peace, the index said the cost of violence around the world has risen $1.9 trillion between 2008 and 2014 to $14.3 trillion.

The index based its findings on the idea that violence destroys human and physical capital along with social and political institutions. The results of that damage ultimately have a direct and indirect economic impact. Military expenditure, crime and interpersonal violence, conflict and internal security are the four main categories used to quantify the costs each country incurs. The categories covered items like incarceration costs, loss of capital costs from crime and homicide, and indirect costs like loss of productivity, among other variables.

Several Latin American nations are among those that pay the most per capita for their safety, according to the index. Honduras, for example, spends more than 20 percent of its GDP on violence containment. Colombia and El Salvador spend 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively, of their GDP on violence-containment expenses.

Central America and the Caribbean saw improvements in its score between 2013 and 2014, but the region remained less peaceful than the global average. Costa Rica and Jamaica saw the greatest improvement in their scores. Meanwhile, increases in El Salvador’s “political violence” and violent crime in Nicaragua dragged down the scores of those countries.

Iceland was the most peaceful country in the world while Syria ranked as the least.

(via the Institute for Economics and Peace's website)
A chart ranking Central American and Caribbean countries on how peaceful they were in 2014. Costa Rica was ranked the most peaceful in the region, according to the 2015 Global Peace Index. (via the Institute for Economics and Peace’s website)
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