Research from the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that as recently as 2010, the Violence Containment Industry accounted for $2.16 trillion, or around 15 percent of U.S. GDP. Violence containment spending encompasses local, state, and federal government expenditure as well as private spending by corporations, households, and individuals.
When adding up the concrete costs to the average American taxpayer it is estimated that violence containment spending costs $7,000 for every man, woman and child each year. That is $6 billion a day in total, or $246 million an hour.
AND YET, we spend a tiny fraction of that on peacebuilding work, which in comparison, proves to be cost effective, saves lives and builds lasting community resilience.
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- If violence containment spending were represented as a discrete industry, it would be the largest industry in the U.S. economy—larger than construction, real estate, professional services, or manufacturing.
- If violence containment spending were represented as a discrete national economic entity, it would be the seventh largest economy in the world, only slightly smaller than the UK economy.
- Violence containment spending is four times higher than the national defense budget.
- Public sector spending on Violence Containment Industry accounts for 10.8 percent of GDP while private sector spending is 4.2 percent of GDP.
- If U.S. federal violence containment spending was reduced by 5 percent each year for five years, the $326 billion of saved funds would be sufficient to entirely update the energy grid, rebuild all levies, and renew the nation’s school infrastructure.
Growing breakthroughs within the following five key Peacebuilding Cornerstones offer great hope, demonstrate proven effectiveness and are ready to forge bold and comprehensive national policies:
- Empowering Community Peacebuilding
- Teaching Peace in Schools
- Humanizing Justice Systems
- Cultivating Personal Peace
- Fostering International Peace
Let’s tell our elected officials that it’s time for a change. We can’t keep investing such a tremendous amount of resources trying to contain violence. It’s time we put our collective attention and resources on dismantling the root causes of violence, by investing in the prevention and intervention work of peacebuilding.
Executive Vice President, Peace Alliance