Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

This is what violence does to a nation's GDP

Closed shops are pictured in Raqqa, Syria June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Aboud Hamam

Prolonged conflict cost the world $14.8 trillion last year. Image: REUTERS/Aboud Hamam

John McKenna
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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Humanitarian Action

War and violence doesn’t just cost lives. It has an economic impact too.

According to the latest edition of the Global Peace Index, the economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2017 was $14.8 trillion.

This is equivalent to 12.4% of the world’s economic activity, or $1,988 for every person on the planet.

Wartorn Syria is the economy worst affected by violence, costing the country 68% of its GDP. Violence still costs Afghanistan nearly two-thirds of its GDP, and just over half of the value of Iraq’s economy.

Image: Statista

The high murder and violent crime rates in El Salvador and Lesotho wiped 49% and 30% respectively off the value of their economies. Cyprus, though, is something of an anomaly, in that most of its economic cost is associated with the displacement of its population.

In general, violence across the world is getting worse: peace levels deteriorated in 92 countries in 2017, and improved in just 71 countries.

And for the first time ever, refugees accounted for 1% of the global population – roughly the same number of people as the population of the UK.

The economic impact of violence rose by 2% during 2017 due to increases in the cost of conflict and internal security expenditures, with the largest increases associated with security spending in China, Russia and South Africa.

However, one bright spot is that overall military spending is falling as a portion of GDP. According to the 2018 Index, 88 countries are spending less and 44 spending more. Average country military expenditure as a percentage of GDP has continued its decade-long decline, with 102 countries spending less.

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Equity, Diversity and InclusionResilience, Peace and Security
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