No kumbaya here: U.S. is now the 101st ‘most peaceful’ nation on earth

Graphic from the Institute for Economics & PeaceGraphic from the Institute for Economics & Peace
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The planet is not a peaceful place, and the U.S. no longer ranks in the top 100 most peaceful nations. It stands at No. 101, according to the annual Global Peace Index, a complex analysis that quantifies the relative peacefulness of 162 nations.

Released Wednesday, the eighth annual assessment is data-driven and measures such things as internal crime statistics, political forces, refugee activity, population trends and other factors — including terrorism, the number of homicides and economic conditions.

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The most peaceful spot? Iceland, followed by Denmark and Austria.

The three least peaceful countries are South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria, at the very bottom of the list.

Money is a key factor. The index affixes a price on the absence of peace, noting that it cost $9.46 trillion worldwide to “contain and deal with the consequences of global violence.”

And Americans pay their share.

“The economic impact of containing the levels of violence cost the U.S. economy $1.7 trillion, or more than 10 percent of the GDP in 2013, translating to more than $5,455 per U.S. citizen,” the index stated.

“Despite a scaled-back military presence overseas, the country’s high degree of militarization, unmatched incarceration rate and an increase in the impact felt from terrorism caused the U.S. to descend into triple digits,” the research said.

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Things are tough all over, though.

“Many macro factors have driven the deterioration in peace over the last seven years, including the continued economic repercussions of the global financial crisis, the reverberations of the Arab Spring, and the continued spread of terrorism. As these effects are likely to continue into the near future, a strong rebound in peace is unlikely,” said Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace, the Australian-based interest group behind the research.

“This is resulting in very real costs to the world economy. Increases in the global economic impact of violence and its containment are equivalent to 19 percent of global economic growth from 2012 to 2013. To put this in perspective, this is around $1,350 per person. The danger is that we fall into a negative cycle: Low economic growth leads to higher levels of violence, the containment of which produces lower economic growth,” Mr. Killelea said.

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