Report Explores Costs of U.S. Political Violence

headshot of USD Professor Andrew Blum


WASHINGTON — The health of American democracy requires strategic investment in community-led solutions that combat political violence and mitigate its cost to society according to a new report released today by Democracy Fund.

The Costs of Political Violence in the United States —And the Benefits of Investing in Communities examines the human and economic harm caused by politically motivated acts of violence and the peace-building strategies that prevent, respond to, and support recovery from hate crimes, terrorism, extremism, armed protests, and excessive use of force by law enforcement.

“When political violence happens, it is right and proper that we first focus on the human cost, that is the loss of life and physical injury,” said the report’s author Andrew Blum, PhD, executive director of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. “In the aftermath of these incidents, however, communities also wrestle with significant economic costs, including the radiating impact of grief and trauma, damage to property and lost revenue resulting from the disruption of economic activity. There is much that can and must be done to mitigate these impacts,” he says.

Following the Boston Marathon bombing, it is estimated that the city lost between $250 million and $330 million when it shut down for one day due to the manhunt for the bombers. In Portland, one 2019 riot cost downtown businesses over $3 million in lost revenue.1 And the psychological costs are also great: the Virginia Tech attack created roughly 600 cases of PTSD, which could add up to about $4 million in potential treatment costs for just one year.

The report argues that funders committed to strengthening American democracy can provide the antidote to political violence by investing in whole-of-society solutions and the infrastructure of collaboration that builds community resilience in six key areas: engaged leadership, social trust, social relationships, preparedness, place attachment (when members care about their community), and collective efficacy (when members believe they can change their community for the better).

“The insurrection on January 6th showed us just how serious the threat of political violence has become,” said Joe Goldman, president of Democracy Fund. “Our democracy demands not just accountability for the many costs, but a stronger dedication to the long-term work of preventing violence in the first place by creating strong, connected communities.”

For more information and to download the full research report and accompanying infographic, visit


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