Vi­o­lence costs more closer to home

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE - ALIS­TER DOYLE

DO­MES­TIC vi­o­lence, mainly against women and chil­dren, kills far more peo­ple than wars and is an of­ten over­looked scourge that costs the world econ­omy more than $8 tril­lion (R87.9 tril­lion) a year, ex­perts say.

The study, which its au­thors said was a first at­tempt to es­ti­mate global costs of vi­o­lence, urged the UN to pay more at­ten­tion to abuse at home that gets less at­ten­tion than armed con­flicts from Syria to Ukraine.

“For ev­ery civil war bat­tle­field death, roughly nine peo­ple… are killed in in­ter­per­sonal dis­putes,” Anke Ho­ef­fler of Ox­ford Univer­sity and James Fearon of Stan­ford Univer­sity wrote in the re­port.

From do­mes­tic dis­putes to wars, they es­ti­mated that all vi­o­lence world­wide cost $9.5 tril­lion a year, mainly in lost eco­nomic out­put and equiv­a­lent to 11.2 per­cent of the world gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

In re­cent years, about 20-25 na­tions suf­fered civil wars, dev­as­tat­ing many lo­cal economies and cost­ing about $170 bil­lion a year. Homi­cides, mainly of men un­re­lated to do­mes­tic dis­putes, cost $650 bil­lion. But those fig­ures were dwarfed by the $8 tril­lion an­nual cost of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, mostly against women and chil­dren.

The study said about 290 mil­lion chil­dren suf­fered vi­o­lent dis­ci­pline at home, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates based on data from the UN Chil­dren’s Fund, Unicef.

Based on es­ti­mated costs, rang­ing from in­juries to child wel­fare ser­vices, the study es­ti­mated that non-fa­tal child abuse sapped 1.9 per­cent of GDP in high in­come na­tions and up to 19 per­cent of GDP in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa where se­vere dis­ci­pline was common.

Bjorn Lom­borg, head of the Copen­hagen Con­sen­sus Cen­tre which com­mis­sioned the re­port, said house­hold vi­o­lence was of­ten over­looked, just as car crashes at­tracted less at­ten­tion than plane crashes even though many more died in road ac­ci­dents.

“This is not just about say­ing: ‘This is a big prob­lem,’ ” he said. “It’s a way to start find­ing smart so­lu­tions.”

The Cen­ter draws on work by more than 50 econ­o­mists, in­clud­ing three Nobel Prize win­ners, and looks at cost-ef­fec­tive ways to fight ev­ery­thing from cli­mate change to malaria.

The study is meant to help the UN de­sign tar­gets for 2030 to suc­ceed Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals set for 2000-15 that in­cluded curb­ing poverty and im­prov­ing wa­ter sup­plies.

The new goals could in­clude an end to se­vere beat­ings as an ac­cepted form of dis­ci­pline for chil­dren, for in­stance, or re­duc­ing vi­o­lence against women at home.

Ro­drigo Soares, a pro­fes­sor at the Sao Paulo School of Eco­nomics, said it was good to high­light the huge num­ber of deaths from do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, even though he said lack of data meant it was “a lit­tle over-am­bi­tious” to es­ti­mate global costs.

The new cost es­ti­mates were based on pre­vi­ous US re­search that put the av­er­age cost of a homi­cide at $9.1 mil­lion, in­clud­ing lost earn­ings and costs to the jus­tice sys­tem. The study then ex­trap­o­lated those costs to other coun­tries based on their GDP – a life would be val­ued at $910 000 in a na­tion where per capita GDP was a 10th of Americans’.

For non-fa­tal vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren, the re­port based it­self on US stud­ies es­ti­mat­ing that vi­o­lent as­saults each cost about $95 000, from med­i­cal costs to losses of in­come. – Reuters

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