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Thursday, April 7, 2011

U.S. Peace Index: The U.S.'s Least Violent States

A recent study by the Institute for Economics and Peace finds that Maine is the most peaceful state in the country, while Louisiana is the least. This year's index claims to be the first state-by-state ranking of America based on levels of peace. The metric that the Institute used in creating is rankings was relatively straightforward: the absence of violence. Using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute looked at homicide rates, percentage of population that is in jail, the availability of small arms, the number of police officers and overall violent crime rate.

According to this study, the ten most peaceful states are (in order): Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Iowa, and Washington. The least are (in order): Louisiana, Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Maryland.

I find it somewhat disconcerting (but perhaps not surprising) that the least peaceful states are, for the most part, some of the most Christian states in the United States (Nevada is the notable exception). One would hope that those of us who worship and follow the Prince of Peace would actually be more peaceful. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Interestingly, according to the the Institute, America has become more peaceful over time:
"The USPI report reveals that peace in the United States has improved since 1995 primarily driven by a substantial decrease in homicide and violent crime... [it is also] significantly correlated with factors related to economic opportunity, education and health."
This is good news, and we can only hope that the numbers will keep improving in the coming years. For those of you who are interested in examining the report in more depth can find it here: "The United States Peace Index 2011."

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