U.S. Peace Index ranks Minnesota No. 4, that's all we are saying

An organization called the Institute for Economics and Peace has crunched some numbers and some up with the U.S. Peace Index, a ranking of the most peaceful states in America.

Minnesota comes in at No. 4.

Does this mean we all have to go out to a street corner and sing one of those annoyingly overplayed John Lennon songs?

Here's who beat us:

Maine came out on top overall. Louisiana, on the other and, ranked dead last. The study's authors say that fits an overall trend in which southern states were the least peaceful in the country, while states in the northeast were most peaceful. The Midwest was somewhere in the middle. And peace, in general, is trending up thanks to ever-decreasing homicide and violent crime rates.

The IEP defines "peace" as "the absence of violence." And for the purposes of the study, violence includes homicide rates, violent crimes, the percentage of the population behind bars, the number of police officers, and the availability of small firearms. (The study includes various economic indicators as well.)

The data comes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Centers for Disease Control.

Minnesota's rankings:

  • Homicide rate: No. 5
  • Violent crime rate: No. 10
  • Incarceration rate: No. 3
  • Cops per 100,000 people: No. 11
  • Availability of small arms: No. 13
  • Overall: No. 4

Those are the indicators than can drag a state's numbers down. But there are others that help boost rankings: strong high school graduation rate, access to health insurance, infant mortality rates, income equality and unemployment.

Political affiliation -- think "Red State" and "Blue State" -- made no difference.

The study asserts that there's more to all this than just sitting in a campfire circle and singing "Kumbaya." The governing principle here is that peace is good and peace saves money and boosts the economy, so figuring out how to promote peace is a worthwhile activity in terms of both quality of life and economic growth. Nationally:

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.

Somewhere out there, we expect there are economists digging into these numbers. Still, it seems like common sense to think that we should give peace a chance. That's all we're saying.

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