So says a survey by something called the Institute for Economics & Peace, as published by USA Today.
The annual United States Peace Index finds the country overall more peaceful than at anytime in the past 20 years, with Maine finishing first as the “most peaceful” state and Louisiana placing last for the 11th year in a row.
The survey, issued annually by the Institute for Economics & Peace, defines peace as “absence of violence.”
The five criteria used in the ranking are the number of homicides per 100,000 people; number of violent crimes; incarceration rate; number of police employees; and availability of small arms.
The survey, first issued in 1991, finds that the United States improved in all five categories over 2011, including a 3.2% drop in homicides and a 5.5% dip in violent crimes.
The survey finds, however, that the decrease in officially recorded violence has been partially offset by increases in violence in prison.
The survey, once again, notes a strong correlation between peace and economic opportunity, health, education and social capital.
How the availability of small arms is a factor in the “peace index” probably calls the survey into some question, and one might argue that a high incarceration rate shouldn’t be penalized either since criminals in jail and off the street probably make for more peace rather than less – assuming the people not in jail aren’t doing the same stuff the convicts did. Another peculiarity in the study is that the higher your number of police employees – aka “peace officers” – the less peaceful your state is. Which would seem to indicate that cops cause crime.
These are probably quibbles, though, since there is no question Louisiana’s violent crime rate – and its homicide rate – is off the charts. The survey said Louisiana’s homicide rate is the worst in the country.
True to form, the survey find the New Orleans area the second most violent in the country, behind only Detroit. Other metro areas in the state aren’t identified.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts area is considered the most peaceful in the country. Among Southern states, Kentucky ranked best at 21st. Most of the highest ranking states on peace index are in New England and the Upper Midwest. Utah and Washington also ranked high.