Tag Archive for Institute for Economics and Peace

Positive Peace and Shared Societies


The Shared Societies Project was represented at “From Theory to Practice: Inaugural Positive Peace Conference” held by the Institute for Economics and Peace at Standford University, California, USA, on October 5, 2015.

The Institute for Economics and Peace has sought to better understand the drivers of peaceful societies through the development of an empirical framework that identifies the optimum environment in which peace can flourish. This is termed Positive Peace. The main contribution has been the development of a framework of inter-related factors or Pillars of Peace, identified by analyzing over 4,700 different indices, datasets and attitudinal surveys. Countries with higher levels of Positive Peace are less likely to slip into major conflicts, are more likely to experience less violence, and are better equipped to bounce back from internal or external shocks caused by economic conditions, societal disagreements and natural disasters.

During the Conference’s session “Positive Peace and Systems Thinking”, aimed to examine positive peace through the lens of systems thinking, Necla Tshirgi, Professor of Practice, Human Security and Peacebuilding at the University of San Diego and and member of their Project Expert Advisory Panel, participated on behalf of the Shared Societies Project.

Necla Tshirgi spoke about the fundamental interrelationships between positive peace factors and Shared Societies. See copy of her presentation here

Peace, Democracy, Shared Societies and The Global Peace Index 2014



Measurement is a crucial factor to foster the efforts towards building an effective Shared Societies. The project has been working during the last years on developing tools to measure different peace and democracy items, all of them relevant for a Shared Society. The latest is the 2014 Global Peace Index Report ‘Measuring Peace and Assessing Country Risk

The increasing interconnectedness of the global economy means that local actions and shocks can impact individuals, communities and businesses on an international scale. Just consider the widespread and lasting impacts of high youth unemployment in Europe, the Arab Springpolitical turmoil in Thailand, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing violence in Syria. Although these tend to confirm the old adage of change being the only certainty, there are clear benefits to being able to better anticipate such events with greater understanding providing us with a means to protect against, and alleviate the impact of economic and social shocks.

Although there are many methods of measuring sovereign risk there are few standard means of assessing risks as it pertains to violence, conflict and instability. We know many societal factors are adversely affected through higher interpersonal violence, terrorism, rising political instability, crackdowns on social, political and religious freedoms as well as increasing inter-state conflict. Similarly, improvements in social conditions and the economy can have a positive effect on peacefulness. Consequently, by analysing the interconnectivity between violence and societal dynamics, it is possible to develop risk estimates that improve on the accuracy of the existing techniques currently used and deepen our understanding of those factors which underlie peaceful and prosperous societies.

Recognizing this, the Institute for Economics and Peace has developed a new approach to assessing country risk as part of the 2014 Global Peace Index Report ‘Measuring Peace and Assessing Country Risk.’ By combining risk theory and quantitative analysis IEP has implemented frameworks to operationalise a series of risk models. The approach places a significant focus on understanding the trajectory and development of the long term institutions which support peace and observing how particular combinations of societal strength or ‘Positive Peace’ interact with violence and conflict.

The current approach, and resulting ‘Risk Scores’ have proven to be reliable in identifying the countries that were at risk and subsequently fell in peace. IEP Risk Scores can therefore be interpreted as the likelihood of a country deteriorating in peace in the presence of a trigger factor.

Broadly, IEP’s research found that the countries that will be at the most risk of economic loss, violence and societal breakdown tend to have lower levels of ‘Positive Peace’, the term used to describe the structures, attitudes and institutions that move society towards resolving conflict in a non-violent way. Nations with low levels of Positive Peace are less likely to remain flexible, ‘pull together’ and rebound in the face of crisis.

In fact, many of the societal factors defined by IEP that support peace also support the Shared Societies agenda of creating a society in which “people hold an equal capacity to participate in, and benefit from, economic, political and social opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, language and other attributes, and where, as a consequence, relations between the groups are peaceful…”.

Furthermore, IEP’s research found that not only do countries with stronger institutions have lower risks of experiencing an increase in violence over the next two years, but that democracies face the lowest risks. Specifically, it was found that the risk tends to be higher in regimes where there tends to be a deficit in political and social freedoms. In addition, it was found that although full democracies experience small deteriorations in peace, the likelihood of full democracies experiencing larger deteriorations is much lower.

Although the human costs of higher levels of violence provides a striking illustration of the importance of strong and accountable institutions, so too does the economic implications of peace. For instance, using IEP’s Global Violence Containment model, estimates were made of the economic impact of the projected falls in peace. From this the overall financial impact of a small to medium rise in violence was found to be greatest in South Korea, Indonesia and Argentina. Such an increase in violence would be equivalent to US$3.8 billion, US$3.7 billion and US$2.0 billion respectively.

However, perhaps most alarmingly, IEP estimated that 16 countries, or over 500 million people, live in countries with an IEP Country Risk score of more than 50, indicating a higher chance of experiencing a small to medium deterioration in peace over the next two years. For instance, if Angola, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea were to experience a ‘small to medium’ deterioration in peace they would experience an increase in their violence containment costs equivalent to $31.0, $10.6 and $10.3 per person respectively.

Although the findings provide a powerful illustration of the potential financial impacts of violence, one of the most important insights is the benefits that could be obtained through governments targeting policies which build Positive Peace. This is because, not only is excess expenditure in areas such as the military fundamentally unproductive, but by freeing up these resources more can be invested in activities such as health, education and infrastructure which encourage economic growth and improve wellbeing. In addition, societies which are peaceful, socially cohesive, stable and safe are undeniably worthwhile in and of themselves; they also make economic sense, with research by IEP consistently finding that more peaceful societies are also more resilient and prosperous.

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.

You can read more about the findings discussed in this blog by clicking here.


Global Peace Index interactive map: http://bit.ly/GPI2014

Global Peace Index report: http://bit.ly/GPIreport

Global Peace Index Video: http://bit.ly/GPIvideo


The size of violence containment in the US is equal to the entire UK economy

Violence Containment spending in the United States

In today´s post, we would like to announce and recommend the publication of “Violence Containment Spending in the US”, a new report that calculates total U.S. public and private expenditure on containing violence – international & domestic. A Shared Societies Project collaborator, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), has prepared this report.

One of the latest developments of the Shared Societies Project was the launching of the economic argument for social inclusion: “The Economics of Shared Societies” during 2011. The economic argument for building a shared society seems obvious. If sections of society are marginalized they will contribute less to the economy. They will have poorer education and limited skills to contribute and less capital to invest. They may also be less willing to contribute to a society that they feel does not respect them or treat them as full citizens. They may go further and resist the status quo and it may cost the state a good deal of its surplus wealth to maintain it. The state may resort to increased security measures, such as enlarged security forces, enhanced equipment for the security services, larger and stronger prisons. External capital is unlikely to invest in a society if it seems unstable and tension is high. While this type of analysis seems self-evident, it does not seem to have much impact on many current leaders. The Shared Societies Project believes that leaders will make greater efforts to achieve a shared society once they and their communities understand and communicate the economic benefits of building a shared society.

This report “Violence Containment Spending in the US” contributes to this argument significantly, since it provides a new methodology to categorize and account for the economic activity related to violence. Let’s review some of its key findings:

  • Violence containment cost the U.S. $2.16 trillion per year, that’s one in every seven dollars.
  • If violence containment were an industry it would be the largest industry in the U.S.
  • Federal expenditure has expanded in the last ten years, increasing by 15%. Violence–related expenditures four times greater than the Department of Defense budget.
  • The size of Violence Containment is equal to the entire UK economy.
  • A 5% reduction in Violence Containment spending for 5 years would provide the capital to rebuild the nation’s levees systems, update the energy infrastructure and complete the upgrading of the nations school infrastructure.

The study shows that even small reductions in Violence Containment spending would result in a meaningful stimulation to the U.S. economy’ Steve Killelea.
The study is the first systematic measure to account for all violence-related expenditure in the U.S. economy. It captures government, corporate, and individual expenditure regardless of whether it is related to international affairs, such as offshore military activities, or domestic spending, for instance, dealing with crime and its consequences.

By defining a new industry as the ‘Violence Containment Industry,’ it is now possible to aggregate all expenditures related to the containment or consequences of violence. Our research indicates that when measured as a percentage of GDP this industry has expanded by 25% in the past ten years,” stated Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of IEP.

The report shows that if the $2.16 trillion of Violence Containment spending were represented as a discrete industry, it would be the largest industry in the United States economy, larger than construction, real estate, professional services, or manufacturing.

The study accounts for all expenditure that is related to violence, such as medical expenses, incarceration, police, the military, insurance, homeland security, and the private security industry. Expenditure is also divided by local ($154 billion), state ($101 billion), and federal ($1,305 billion) government as well as private spending by corporations, households, and individuals ($602 billion). A 5% reduction in federal government Violence Containment spending for 5 years would provide $326 billion. This would exceed the capital needed to rebuild the nation’s levees systems, update the energy infrastructure, and complete the upgrading of the nation’s school infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers is currently estimating a $134 billion shortfall for the above infrastructure development.

The study clearly demonstrates that even small reductions in violence and the spending associated with it would result in a meaningful stimulation to the U.S. economy,” concluded Mr. Killelea.

More information here


Violence Containment Industries in the United States

Daniel Hyslop on Violence Containment Industries in the United States, a theoretical taxonomyto conceptualise economic activity related to violence, at the Shared Societies International Workshop held in Maastricht (May 2012).

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Daniel Hyslop is Research Manager at the Institute for Economics and Peace

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