Social and Economic Costs of Violence – Workshop Summary

Violence not only causes physical and emotional damage, but also creates a social and economic burden on communities. Measuring these costs can be difficult, and most estimates only consider the direct economic effects of violence, such as productivity loss or the use of health care services. Beyond these clear-cut costs, however, the pain and suffering of violence can affect human and social development and increase the risk of chronic outcomes later in life. Communities and societies feel the effects of violence through loss of social cohesion, financial divestment, and the increased burden on the health care and justice systems. Initial estimates show that the cost of implementing successful violence prevention interventions is usually less than the cost borne by individuals and society if no action is taken. April 28-29, 2011, the IOM’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention held a workshop to evaluate the social and economic costs of violence. The workshop was designed to examine cross-cutting public health approaches to violence prevention from multiple perspectives and at various levels of society. Participants focused on exploring the successes and challenges of calculating direct and indirect costs of violence, as well as the potential cost-effectiveness of intervention. Speakers discussed social and economic costs of violence at four levels: individual, family, community, and societal. This document is a summary of the workshop.