The 2011 Global Peace Index study is available here http://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/PDF/2011/2011%20GPI%20Results%20Report.pdf [PDF] Thanks to Lim Kooi Fong for the pointer.
Iceland is #1 this year. This is based on a weighted score.
The top 10 and their relevant scores are:
1 Iceland 1.148
2 New Zealand 1.279
3 Japan 1.287
4 Denmark 1.289
5 Czech Republic 1.320
6 Austria 1.337
7 Finland 1.352
8 Canada 1.355
9 Norway 1.356
10 Slovenia 1.358
The U.S. is at number 82. This is 2 places behind China.
Buddhist countries are included too. Lim Kooi Fong of The Buddhist Channel, based in Malaysia, brought the report to my attention on Facebook. He wrote:
Buddhist countries are not faring too well: Japan 3, Taiwan 27, Vietnam 30, Laos, 32, South Korea 50, Thailand 107, Cambodia 115, Sri Lanka 126, Myanmar 133
There are a lot of factors which go into these types of indexes besides the predominant religion of a country though. The most significant thing I found in the report regarding religion was that the smaller the role religion played in the political arena the higher the score of the country and the higher the correlation between other positive factors. Same is true of militarization.
There are also breakdowns in the report by continent and region. Much of the data was supplied by The Economist Intelligence Unit which does some of the best and most comprehensive data sampling, analysis and collection anywhere. Better than most governments.
One of the most interesting areas in the report is entitled INVESTIGATING CORRELATIONS WITH OTHER ECONOMIC AND SOCIETAL INDICATORS (p.28). This part combines the preceding data with additional factors such as civil rights, militarization, life expectancy, unemployment and others from the Political Democracy Index. What is revealed there are correlation coefficients of the scores.
Correlation coefficients are just a fancy way of saying a dependency relationship. One element depends upon another element to a certain degree and that gives a number. There are various scales and raw data (basic statistics such as number of homicides per 100K people and so on) one can use to come up with the numbers. One might not be into statistical analysis much but briefly this gives a much broader and more integrated picture of the situations.
Statistical analysis seems to demonstrate the principle of interdependence quite nicely.
For example there is a high correlative coefficient between respect for human rights and a country’s internal peace, 0.80. For purposes here 1.00 is total correlation whether it is positive or negative. So one gets an idea of what elements are most significant to make peace both within a country and between countries.
Some of the indicators are broken down with even further analysis but I won’t do a summation here as you can check that out yourself.
So some of the major factors that lead to peace in a society are:
- longer life expectancy
- lower infant mortality
- access to medical services
- basic literacy
- access to higher education
- access to ideas
- higher spending on education
Employment and Material Wellbeing
- low unemployment
- access to goods and services
Demographics, Gender Equality and Representation by Women
- gender equality
- gender numbers not skewed (no female infanticide etc.)
- women represented in government
- low hostility to foreigners
- high level of trust between citizens
- secularism in government
- low willingness of people to fight wars
- low availability of weapons
- low expenditure on heavy weapons and military
- low prison populations
Democracy and Transparency
- well functioning open government and electoral process
- political engagement and knowledge within the population
- civil liberties unimpeded
- corruption minimal
- freedom of the press
- low numbers of political prisoners
Regional Cooperation and International Openness
- high number of treaties and other negotiated settlements of disputes
- higher tourism rates
- foreign investment allowed
- acceptance of immigrants
If you want a peaceful society these are areas where you might want to concentrate some of your energy in terms of social action, lobbying or just writing a letter or two to your representatives as well as in your day to day activities, like teaching someone to read or teaching your children about other cultures or meeting your refugee neighbors and saying hello or providing some goods to a food bank or putting a halt to the gun collection, etc., etc…