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Cost of Violent Deaths in the United States, 2005

In the United States, violence accounts for approximately 51,000 deaths annually. Violent deaths are those that result from the intentional use of physical force or power against oneself, another person, or a group or community. They include suicide, homicide, and legal intervention deaths. Violence adversely affects all Americans not only through premature death, but also through medical costs and lost productivity. Estimating the size of this economic burden is helpful in understanding the resources that could be saved if cost-effective violence prevention efforts were applied.

Total Combined Medical and Work Loss Costs of Violent Deaths, by Sex and Intent, U.S. 2005

 In 2005, total combinded medical and work loss costs of violent deaths were $47.2 billion 
  • In 2005, more than 51,000 people died due to violence.
  • The cost of these deaths totaled to $47.2 billion ($47 billion in work loss costs and $215 million in medical treatment).
  • The per capita cost of violent deaths for Americans was $160*.

*Population source: WISQARS: National Center for Health Statistics website at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/bridged_race.htm (U.S. population in 2005: 295,753,151)


See related pages for more cost data



Mortality data for 2005 from the National Vital Statistics System provided counts of violent deaths. These data represent a census of all death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Cost estimates comprise total and average per-death lifetime medical (e.g., medical treatment, rehabilitation), work loss (e.g. loss wages and accompanying benefits), and combined (medical + work loss) costs by value of the dollar in 2005. Further details on the definitions of these costs and methods for calculating unit cost estimates for violent deaths are provided in a methods report by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Estimates presented here show an incomplete picture of the overall cost of violence to society, because the focus is only on violent deaths and the immediate consequence (for example, medical and work loss costs). Other costs to society that extend beyond the immediate physical consequences are not included in these estimates. Those costs include, but are not limited to, disability, mental/emotional anguish of surviving family member or co-workers, property damage, lowered property values, community fear, law enforcement, judicial, and litigation costs. The estimates also do not include the medical, work loss and other costs resulting from nonfatal violence. Cost estimates are based on 2005 U.S. prices. They reflect costs that are representative of economic characteristics nationally, and represent the most current data available at the time unit cost estimates were calculated. There is now a new Cost of Injury module in CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, which allows for computing cost estimates on fatal and nonfatal injuries for many different causes and types of injuries.

 
 
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  • Page last updated: February 24, 2011
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