Thursday 15 November 2018

Revealed: the cost of containing violence in Ireland

Unsurprisingly, the country that is experiencing the most negative economic impact as a result of violence is Syria. AFP/Getty Images
Unsurprisingly, the country that is experiencing the most negative economic impact as a result of violence is Syria. AFP/Getty Images
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Violence - threatened and actual - cost the global economy $14.8trn (€12.7trn) in 2017, according to the 2018 Global Peace Index (GPI).

Here in Ireland the cost of containing violence and cleaning up afterwards was equal to approximately 3pc of gross domestic product, or 3pc of the value of goods and services produced in the country.

That's in addition to the human costs.

The data is from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), an independent, non-profit Australian-headquartered think tank which measures the level of peace in a country using three themes; the level of safety and security within society, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation.

It then ranks the impact on economies using a purchasing power parity comparison, which basically looks at costs in the context of the cost of living in different countries.

They calculate that in Ireland, violence cost every person an average of $2,363 (€2,023) over the past 12 months. Included in this figure are the costs of policing and medical expenses as a result of violence and indirect costs like physical and physiological trauma to victim and lost productivity.

The good news is that puts us near the bottom of the pile globally.

Out of the 163 countries listed in the report as having been impacted by the economic cost of violence, Ireland ranked 148th.

We ranked 10th in the world for "peacefulness", with Iceland and New Zealand topping the 2018 GPI, according the report.

Ireland performed especially strongly under the report's militarisation theme, ranking sixth out of the 163 countries in terms of peacefulness.

Globally, the impact of violence increased by 2.1pc in 2017, driven mainly by a rise in internal security expenditure, with spending by governments on military and internal security making up two thirds of the global economic impact of violence, according to the report.

Unsurprisingly, the country that is experiencing the most negative economic impact as a result of violence is Syria. Last year the country, which has been raged by war since 2011, counted the economic cost of violence at approximately 68pc of its overall GDP.

Other countries labouring under heavy costs have either high levels of armed conflict, high levels of interpersonal violence, or both.

The likes of Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, South Sudan, and Central African Republic are suffering from higher costs in the form of deaths and injuries from conflict or terrorism, population displacement and GDP losses, according to the report.

In countries such as El Salvador and Lesotho in Southern Africa, high levels of interpersonal violence has resulted in them featuring amongst the top 10 countries impacted by the economic cost of violence as a percentage of their GDP, the report has found.

There is one country in the top 10 countries affected by the economic cost of violence which is not experiencing armed conflict and or interpersonal violence: Cyprus. The Mediterranean island, which was invaded by Turkey in 1974, has seen its GDP impacted by the internal displacement of its population.

Irish Independent

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