Maine is the most peaceful state in the nation and Louisiana is the least peaceful, according to a new index released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a Washington, D.C.-based international think tank that also produces the Global Peace Index.
The new ranking shows that peace in the United States improved overall by 8 percent from 1995 to 2009, due mostly to decreases in homicide and violent crime rates.
How to measure peace: study indicators
Researchers who created the index considered five indicators, including homicide rates, violent crimes, percentage of the population in jail, number of police officers and the availability of small arms per 100,000 people. They drew from data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Centers for Disease Control.
The institute estimates that reductions in violence, crime and incarcerations in the United States to the same levels in Canada would yield $360 billion in savings and additional economic activity, with the potential to create 2.7 million jobs. The effect of such changes on insurance rates is unknown.
A state's ranking is strongly correlated with 15 socioeconomic factors, including high school graduation rates, infant mortality, access to basic services, labor force participation rates and rates of poverty and teenage pregnancy, the institute said.
10 most peaceful states
According to the index, the 10 most peaceful states are:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
10 least peaceful states
The 10 least peaceful states are:
- South Carolina
The total cost of violence per person in a state ranges from $656 in Maine to $2,458 in Louisiana, according to institute data.