According to the U.S. Peace Index (USPI), Maine is the most peaceful U.S. state, while Louisiana is ranked the least peaceful.
The inaugural United States Peace Index – created by the international think tank Institute for Economics and Peace – is the first-ever ranking of the fifty U.S. states based on their levels of peace. According to the USPI, New York, California and Texas recorded highest increases in peace since 1991, while North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana saw the largest declines.
Overall, the USPI report showed that peace in the United States has improved since 1995 primarily driven by a substantial decrease in homicide and violent crime. Additionally, according to the report reductions in violence and crime to levels equal to Canada would yield an estimated $89 billion in direct savings, $272 billion in additional economic activity, and potentially create 2.7 million jobs.
The Institute for Economics and Peace estimates that at a time when states and lawmakers in Washington are struggling to balance budgets, the USPI shows reductions in violence, crime and incarcerations to the same levels as Canada would result in $361 billion in savings and additional economic activity. This additional economic activity has the potential to create 2.7 million jobs, which would significantly reduce unemployment.
The USPI also finds that a state’s ranking is strongly correlated with various socio-economic factors including the high school graduation rate, access to health insurance and the rate of infant mortality.
Significant economic correlants included the degree of income inequality and the rate of participation in the labor force.
Meanwhile, factors such as median income and a state’s political affiliation had no discernable impact on a state’s level of peace.
The ten most peaceful states as identified by the USPI are (from 1 to 10) Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Iowa and Washington.
Maine was ranked first overall because it topped the list of states on three of the five USPI indicators: number of violent crimes, number of police officers and the incarceration rate.
The ten least peaceful states are (from 50 to 40) Louisiana, Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Maryland, respectively.
Regionally, southern states were identified as being the least peaceful, while states in the northeast were most peaceful. The peacefulness of states in the Midwest and West was about equal, with Midwest states being slightly more peaceful.
The total cost of violence per person in a state ranges from $656 in Maine to $2,458 in Louisiana. The USPI estimates that the economic effect of decreasing violence in states by 25 percent ranges from $126 million in Vermont to $16 billion in California.
New York experienced the most significant increase in peace as a result of decreases in violent crime and the homicide rate.
Conversely, South Dakota saw the largest decline due to a steady rise in incarcerations and the number of police without a fall in the incidence of homicide or violent crime.
“Peace is significantly correlated with factors related to economic opportunity, education and health,” noted the report, adding that “Peace is politically neutral – neither Republican nor Democratic states have an advantage.”
2 New Hampshire
5 North Dakota
7 Massachusetts 1
8 Rhode Island
14 South Dakota
18 West Virginia
26 New Jersey
29 New York
32 North Carolina
38 New Mexico
42 South Carolina