America’s Most (and Least) Peaceful States

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America’s Most Peaceful States

10. Iowa
> Violent crimes (excl. murder) per 100,000: 272.2 (18th least)
> Murders per 100,000: 1.3 (tied for 3rd least)
> Incarceration rate per 100,000: 309 (14th least)
> Police per 100,000: 266.1 (8th least)
> Basic access: 85.4 (6th highest)
> Total cost of violence: $3.03 billion

Iowa’s score on the Peace Index has actually gotten much worse compared to its score in 1991. In 2010, the state had a higher rate of violent crimes — excepting murders — than many of the states in the Midwest. Nevertheless, when all of the categories are considered, Iowa is among the 10 most peaceful states in the country. The state had just 1.3 murders per 100,000 people in 2010, tied for the third-fewest in the country. Iowa has the seventh-highest graduation rate as well as one of the lowest teen death rates in the U.S. The state has a very high labor participation rate, which correlates strongly with peacefulness.

9. Rhode Island
> Violent crimes (excl. murder) per 100,000: 253.8 (13th least)
> Murders per 100,000: 2.8 (16th least)
> Incarceration rate per 100,000: 197 (3rd least)
> Police per 100,000: 300.6 (23rd least)
> Basic access: 82.7 (22nd highest)
> Total cost of violence: $1.04 billion

Despite having an especially low high school graduation rate and a particularly high rate of children who grow up in single parent households, Rhode Island is one of the most peaceful states. The state has the third-lowest incarceration rate in the country. It also has among the lowest rates of births among teens and the lowest rates of teen deaths. As for its metropolitan areas, Providence-New Bedford-Fall River is among the most peaceful in the nation.

8. Hawaii
> Violent crimes (excl. murder) per 100,000: 260.9 (14th least)
> Murders per 100,000: 1.8 (tied for 7th)
> Incarceration rate per 100,000: 302 (13th least)
> Police per 100,000: 273.8 (12th least)
> Basic access: 85.6 (4th highest)
> Total cost of violence: $1.33 billion

According to the Peace Index, Hawaii was the only state to move onto the most peaceful list after last year’s rank. The state has one of the lowest murder rates in the country, as well as one of the lowest rates of gun suicide. Hawaii has one of the best economies in the country. Poverty is nearly nonexistent in the state — Hawaii has a poverty rate of just 10% and one of the highest levels of income equality in the country. According to Gallup’s State of the States report, Hawaii has the fourth-highest level of basic access to necessities. The state also has the longest life expectancy in the country at 81.5 years.

7. Washington
> Violent crimes (excl. murder) per 100,000: 311.5 (25th least)
> Murders per 100,000: 2.3 (11th least)
> Incarceration rate per 100,000: 269 (10th least)
> Police per 100,000: 217.0 (2nd least)
> Basic access: 83.5 (18th highest)
> Total cost of violence: $7.76 billion

Washington is the seventh-most peaceful state in the country and the second-most peaceful in the American West. Washington stands out for having the second-lowest amount of police employees per 100,000 residents at just 217. The state also has a particularly low incarceration rate, with just 269 prisoners per 100,000 people. Homicide rates in the state are also relatively low.

6. North Dakota
> Violent crimes (excl. murder) per 100,000: 223.5 (8th least)
> Murders per 100,000: 1.5 (6th least)
> Incarceration rate per 100,000: 226 (6th least)
> Police per 100,000: 275.3 (14th least)
> Basic access: 84.9 (10th highest)
> Total cost of violence: $580 million

According to the report, the percentage of single-parent households correlates highly with crime levels. In 2010, just 24% of children in North Dakota were living in single-parent homes, the fourth-lowest percentage in the country. The state also has one of the best high school graduation rates, as well as the highest labor participation rate in the country at 72.3%. Despite the fact that it is the sixth-most peaceful state in the country, according to the Index, North Dakota’s score worsened by 50% between 1991 and 2010.