Violence at home costs $8 trillion a year, worse than war: study

Tue Sep 9, 2014 8:58am EDT
 
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By Alister Doyle

OSLO (Reuters) - 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 a year, experts said on Tuesday.

The study, which its authors said was a first attempt to estimate global costs of violence, urged the United Nations 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 inter-personal 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 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 suffer violent discipline at home, according to estimates based on data from the United Nations 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.

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