Violence Costs Rival Federal Education Spending

Phaedra Corso, lead author of study and associate professor of health policy at the University of Georgia College of Public Health and health economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the study illustrates how much money can be saved by investing in programs that decrease interpersonal violence and self-inflicted violence such as suicide. For comparison, the federal Department of Education has an annual budget of $67.2 billion and hurricane Katrina caused an estimated $80 billion in damage. “Violence can be prevented, and this study highlights the benefits of prevention,” said Corso.

Corso and her colleagues at the CDC analyzed eight national data sets compiled by the federal government and calculated medical costs as well as productivity losses. The study also examines the costs of violence in different sub-populations and categories of violence, revealing specific targets for cost effective interventions.

The researchers found that most of the costs of violence stem from males and young adults. Sixty-eight percent of the costs from assaults and 63 percent of the costs from self-inflicted injuries were in males aged 15 to 44. “The most burdensome category is among young males who are victims of assaults with firearms,” Corso said. “So if you want to prevent those costs from occurring, you need to focus on prevention in that particular population.”

Other findings from the study include: Most of the $70 billion in costs associated with violence were from lost productivity ($64.4 billion), with the remaining $5.6 billion spent on medical care. The cost of self-inflicted injuries (suicide and attempted suicide) is $33 billion annually ($32 billion in productivity losses, $1 billion in medical costs). People aged 15 to 44 years comprise 44 percent of the population, but account for nearly 75 percent of injuries and 83 percent of costs due to interpersonal violence.

Corso said that economic costs provide, at best, an incomplete measure of the toll of violence. Victims of violence are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and a host of other problems such as substance abuse.; Source: University of Georgia