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What Does the World Spend on Policing?

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
For more content, see Comparative Sociology.

Social indicators vary in their breadth and coverage. One popular indicator of the priority that society gives to specific areas of life is a measure of monetary expenditure. Do we spend more or less on X or on Y? Is the balance correct? A necessary precursor to such comparisons is measurement. This paper presents a method for estimating annual global expenditure on policing. Data from the fifth sweep of the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Criminal Justice Systems are supplemented with information from other sources. The relationship between gross domestic product and policing expenditure is examined via regression methods. The coefficients are used to extrapolate across space to produce national policing estimates from which a global estimate is derived. It is estimated that the world spent U.S. $194 billion on public policing in the year 2000. The method utilized to produce this estimate is described, and the implications and possibilities for future research are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: The Police Foundation, 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20036, USA


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