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Personal safety, as a basic human need, is encapsulated globally in national legislation and international accords, all with the aim of maintaining public order and safety. While definitions of law and order may vary by country—and with it the tasks assigned to security forces—the source of funding is nearly universally taxpayers. Every taxpayer thereby has the right to know whether these public expenditures are effective. In today’s viz we explore the efficiency of public safety expenditures global by comparing expenditures with crime levels.

  • A comparison of homicide rates and government expenditures on public order and safety shows very little dependence.
  • But, expenditurse compared to burglary rates reveals a distinct negative dependence. For example, Denmark and Sweden have among the lowest expenditures on safety globally and among the highest burglary rates. Conversely, spending by the UAE and Bulgaria on public security is relatively high and their burglary rates relatively low.

Other quick facts:

  • As a share of GDP, Kiribati, the UAE, South Africa, Seychelles, and the Ukraine spend the most globally on public order and safety, ranging from 3 to 4.7 percent of GDP. 
  • Among advanced economies, the United States spends the most at 2.04 percent of GDP, or about $379 billion in 2016. Interestingly, the US government also spends more on prisons than on students on a per-capita basis.
  • Myanmar, Luxembourg, Denmark, Singapore, and Norway report the lowest law enforcement expenditures in the world.
  • Advanced European countries have the highest burglary rates globally: Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium are all in the top 5. 

For information about police numbers and effectiveness globally, click here.

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