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Peace by the Numbers: IEP’s Indexes and Reports

Beginning in 2007 with its first Global Peace Index, the Institute for Economics and Peace has produced a series of reports. In most cases, they examine data from 163 countries and independent territories, encompassing more than 99.7 percent of the world’s population. The full reports are available at Here’s a look at some of the reports published in 2018.

The Global Peace Index (PDF) found that the level of peace deteriorated by 0.27 percent over the previous year, the fourth consecutive year for a worldwide decline. While levels of peace improved in 71 countries, 92 countries experienced a decline, the highest number in a single year since the 2010 report. Iceland was deemed the most peaceful country; Syria, the least. 

The Positive Peace Report (PDF) reported a 2.4 percent improvement in the Positive Peace Index since 2005. (According to the IEP, each 1 percent improvement in positive peace corresponds with a 2.9 percent growth in real gross domestic product per capita.) Among the 163 countries studied, 110 saw positive peace improve; the report identified Sweden, Finland, and Norway as the three countries with the highest levels of positive peace. On the downside, four of the eight pillars of peace deteriorated from 2013 to 2017, with the free flow of information, down by 0.4 percent annually, taking the most significant hit. 

The Economic Value of Peace (PDF) report concluded that the effect of violence on the global economy was $14.76 trillion in 2017, equivalent to 12.4 percent of global GDP or $1,998 per person. The IEP acknowledged that its estimates, which represented a 2.1 percent increase over the previous year, were “considered to be conservative.”

According to the Global Terrorism Index (PDF), deaths from terrorism decreased by 27 percent from 2016 to 2017; still, there were nearly 19,000 deaths related to terrorism in 2017. The economic impact of terrorism was conservatively estimated at $52 billion.

The Business & Peace report (PDF) confirmed the IEP’s posited correlation between high levels of positive peace and strong economic performance: “Over the last six decades, GDP growth has been three times higher in highly peaceful countries, as measured by the (Global Peace Index), than in countries with low levels of peace.” Citing “historical analysis,” the report predicted that countries making significant improvements in positive peace could expect to see corresponding economic returns.