Sunday, August 14, 2005

Economics of Violence

The WHO has come up with a brilliant report on the economic effects of interpersonal violence (it excludes self-directed violence, war, state-sponsored violence and any other collective violence), measuring the impact (in money terms) of the interpersonal violence we find all around our lives. Here's a sneak-peek:
  • Cost of violence is almost 3.3% of USA's GDP (about US$ 40 billion per year!)
  • Child abuse costs $94 billion annually to the US economy
  • Intimate partner violence amonts to $12.6 billion on an annual basis in the US

For those of us who seek refuge in the fact that these statistics speak of only North American and West European situations, the report states that these costs are much more severe in the poorer nations, but the statistics are not available.

And where proactive steps have been taken to prevent and/or address such violence, the economic benefits have been much bigger than the corresponding costs.

Having said this, isn't it tragic that in order for us to denounce violence, we need statistical awareness of the costs involved?! What if the costs of violence weren't high? Let's assume that the economic benefits of prevention efforts were negligible in comparison with the costs? Would that make violence acceptable? Would that have made the prevention programmes any less significant?

Is it all truly about money, honey?

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