response in other settings. As well, witnessing or being a victim of violence can increase the risk of future violence.

The final paper lays out the significant impact of violence at early stages of child development, by examining violence and its effects along the life span. Violence, resulting in traumatic stress, can have psychological and physiological effects on the brain and body, some of which can manifest much later in life. Mitigating these effects requires early intervention.


Hugh Richard Waters, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Adnan Ali Hyder, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Yogesh Rajkoti, Ph.D., M.Sc.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Suprotik Basu, M.H.S.
The World Bank

Alexander Butchart, Ph.D., M.A.
World Health Organization


This article reviews evidence of the economic impact of interpersonal violence internationally. In the United States, estimates of the costs of interpersonal violence reach 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The public sector—and thus society in general—bears the majority of these costs. Interpersonal violence is defined to include violence between family members and intimate partners, as well as violence between acquaintances and strangers that is not intended to further the aims of any formally defined group or cause. Although these types of violence disproportionately affect poorer countries, there is a scarcity of studies of their economic impact in those countries. International comparisons are complicated by the calculation of economic losses based on forgone wages and income, thus undervaluing economic losses in poorer countries.


1 Reprinted from Waters, H. R., A. A. Hyder, Y. Rajkotia, S. Basu, and A. Butchart. 2005. The costs of interpersonal violence—An international review. Health Policy 73(3):303-315.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement