Violence and Injury Prevention

WHO releases new tool to help countries calculate the costs of violence

In addition to the wide-ranging emotional costs, violence also causes substantial economic damage. Fatal and non-fatal injuries due to interpersonal and self-directed violence result in large direct expenditures for the health care, law enforcement, criminal justice and welfare systems. Meeting these direct costs diverts huge quantities of money from more constructive societal spending. Far larger still are the indirect costs of violence-related injuries that arise from lost productivity and an inability to continue with the activities of daily life. These massive indirect costs result in slower economic development, increased socioeconomic inequality, and an erosion of human and social capital.

Some countries have made progress in documenting the costs of violence, and are using the findings to advocate for increased investment in violence prevention. In other countries, such information is lacking. In response WHO has released a new tool to help countries calculate the costs of violence. The Manual for estimating the economic cost of injuries due to interpersonal and self-directed violence was prepared by WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It provides a standardized set of recommendations to estimate the direct and indirect economic costs of interpersonal and self-directed violence. The manual is intended primarily for economists, public health experts and researchers interested in conducting studies of this nature.

It is hoped that the use of the manual in countries will support a growing number of scientific analyses of the economic impacts of violence, and ultimately result in lives saved through an increase in prevention programmes justified at least in part by documenting the economic costs of violence.

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