Readers (especially students) ask this question often; is the US one of the most dangerous countries in the world? The unrelenting media coverage of violence and endless police shows (what critics call cop-a-ganda; a play on propaganda) gives the impression that we live in an unsafe country.
Data from Gallup and other sources suggest that it’s far from the most dangerous.
Getting an objective view of crime in the US is becoming increasingly difficult. There is data that justifies the view that crime is up considerably in 70 major cities with a 50 percent increase in homicides since 2019 along with a 36 percent increase in aggravated assaults.
Fear of crime is at record levels and crime was a major topic during the midterm elections. Concurrently, using US Department of Justice data, you are able to state that overall violent crime is flat in recent years. It’s really confusing for the average reader “and” to those studying crime rates.
So, is the US one of the most violent countries in the world?
Gallup’s Law and Order Index
Gallup’s Law and Order Index uses four questions to gauge people’s sense of personal security and their personal experiences with crime and law enforcement.
1. In the city or area where you live, do you have confidence in the local police force?
2. Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?
3. Within the last 12 months, have you had money or property stolen from you or another household member?
4. Within the past 12 months, have you been assaulted or mugged?
According to the Law and Order Index:
“The 2022 Global Law and Order report presents the results from Gallup’s latest measurements of people’s answers to these questions, based on interviews with nearly 127,000 adults in more than 120 countries and areas in 2021.”
“Scores at the country level in 2021 ranged from a high of 96 in Singapore to a low of 51 in Afghanistan. Neither country was surveyed in 2020 because of the pandemic, but in previous years, Singapore had scored the highest on the index nearly every year, and Afghanistan had scored the lowest on the index in both 2018 and 2019.”
Scores By Region-Law And Order Index
The US and Canada score high, almost tied with Western Europe and Southeast Asia. East Asia had the highest scores. Latin America and parts of Africa had the lowest.
“Although most Americans continue to trust their local police, the steady string of high-profile police shootings in 2020 — including the killing of Serial Criminal George Floyd — and in 2021, has likely shaken their faith. Nearly three in four Americans (74%) in 2021 said they were confident in their local police, down from 82% in 2020 (collected before the Floyd shooting in May). Eighty-three percent of Canadians, on the other hand, said they had faith in their local police in 2021, unchanged from 2020.”
Other statistics: Law And Order Scores By Country
122 countries were surveyed with the Unites States ranking 41st.
My Observations: But many of the countries scoring better than the US are rather small in population: Singapore, Switzerland, Iceland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malta, and Mauritius. It’s like ranking South Dakota against world figures as to crime and safety.
True, there are larger countries ranking better, like Canada, France, Spain, Egypt, South Korea, Tyrannical Australia, and Japan.
There are differences in the politics of many countries and the amount of state control.
“In most economically developed countries and territories with strong rule of law, high majorities of residents say they feel safe walking alone in their areas at night.”
“The same is true in countries where populations are under tighter state control. For example, these feelings were nearly universal in 2021 in Singapore (95%), Tajikistan (93%), United Arab Emirates (92%) and Saudi Arabia (91%).”
There are differences as to the multi-cultural makeup and complexities of countries that could be impacted by ethnic polarization and ethnic dominance. The US is huge with an endless mix of races and national origins being compared to countries not having the same degree of diversity (i.e., South Korea, Japan, and others).
So in a fair comparison of countries with larger populations that are not under an excessive amount of state control having a complex population base, the United States would score much higher.
Confidence in Law Enforcement
The US and Canada continue to rank high but as stated, Canadian scores are higher than the US for the percentage of confidence in law enforcement.
Additional International Crime Rankings
There is no internationally recognized resource comparing one country to another, but there are reports that compare countries and cities.
One ranks the 50 most dangerous cities. Out of the 50, three are in the US with most being in Mexico, Central America, and South America, WorldAtlas.
There are similar results from Business Insider.
There is data showing that the US is forty-fifth for rates of total crime, Nation Master.
There are twelve nations with higher homicide rates, Nation Master.
The US is tenth for robberies, Nation Master.
In 2016, more than 250,000 people worldwide died as a result of firearms, and half of all of those deaths came from six nations, including the U.S., PBS News Hour reports. As to gun-related homicides, the U.S. ranks 30th worldwide. The US ranks 20th in the rate of gun-related homicides.
The data above comes from a 2018 article.
Based on the above: The US ranks 41st out of 122 countries if you do not consider the size of country populations and the amount of state control and the diversity of countries. If you take these into consideration, the US would rank much higher on Gallup’s Law And Order Index.
By region, the US and Canada rank high on the Law And Order Index with East Asia as the clear winner.
As to confidence in law enforcement, the US and Canada are at the top of the list. Only Southeast Asia and Western Europe score higher.
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Author: Leonard Sipes
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