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The research team chose the U.S. as a “test country” because of the wealth of demographic data that is available. The team had some good news. Based on lower crime rates and other factors, the research found that the nation has become 8 percent more peaceful since the mid-1990s.

“This study is the first of a series,” Mr. Killelea said, noting that Britain, Colombia and India are candidates for internal peace indexes. He hopes to build on the Global Peace Index, an annual project he launched in 2007 that ranks the comparative peacefulness among nations.

“The idea is to move the study around,” he added.

While talk of peace long has been a loaded subject in cultural and political discussions, the researchers insist that their findings are void of ethical trappings.

“This study does not seek to make any moral or value judgments about the appropriate levels of any of the indicators,” the index said.

“I think there isn’t anything too controversial here. Most people wouldn’t mind living in a society that is more peaceful, with strong prospects for economic improvement,” Mr. Killelea said.