Venezuela and Afghanistan may be farther away from reaching the United Nations' goal for peaceful, secure societies than any other country in the world, based on their scores on Gallup's 2018 Law and Order Index.
According to Gallup, the countries with the highest Law and Order Index Scores include:
- Singapore 97 Law and Order Index
- Norway 93
- Iceland 93
- Finland 93
- Uzbekistan 91
- Hong Kong 91
- Switzerland 90
- Canada 90
- Indonesia 89
- Denmark 88
- Slovenia 88
- Luxembourg 88
- Austria 88
- China 88
- Netherlands 88
- Egypt 88
The countries with the lowest Law and Order Index Scores include:
- Bolivia 61
- Sierra Leone 61
- Botswana 61
- Dominican Republic 60
- Mexico 58
- South Africa 58
- Liberia 56
- Gabon 55
- South Sudan 54
- Afghanistan 45
- Venezuela 44
The Law and Order Index is a composite score based on people's reported confidence in their local police, their feelings of personal safety and the incidence of theft and assault or mugging in the past year. The higher the score, the higher the proportion of the population that reports feeling secure. The index score for the world in 2017 was 81 out of a possible 100. Eighty-six countries, including Venezuela and Afghanistan, posted scores lower than this average.
The countries scoring the best and the worst on the index remained unchanged from 2016. Scores worldwide ranged from a high of 97 in Singapore to a low of 44 in Venezuela. While Venezuela earned the "least secure" title alone in 2016, in 2017, it shared that designation with war-torn Afghanistan -- where the score of 45 hit a record low.
Venezuelans Still Lack Sense of Basic Safety
Venezuela's repeat appearance at the bottom of the security list reflects a country still in political and economic chaos, Gallup said: Just 17% of residents said they felt safe walking alone at night where they live, and 24% expressed confidence in their police. Both percentages are up somewhat from the record-lows set in Venezuela in 2016, which were the lowest scores Gallup had measured worldwide since 2005.
At the same time, said Gallup, more Venezuelans (42%) reported having had property or money stolen in the past year -- topping the previous high of 38% set in 2016. In only three countries were residents considerably more likely than Venezuelans to say they had been the victims of theft in the past year: Afghanistan (46%), Uganda (49%) and South Sudan (50%). Nearly one in four residents in Venezuela (23%) said they had been assaulted -- again one of the highest percentages throughout the world that year.
Not much separated Afghans' and Venezuelans' perceptions in 2017, Gallup said. While Afghans were more likely than Venezuelans to have been the victims of theft, Venezuelans were less likely than Afghans to have confidence in their local police and were more likely to have been assaulted.
Venezuelans, Afghans Least Likely to Feel Safe Walking Alone at Night
Monitoring indicators such as these are important, particularly given that the U.N. is targeting "promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies" as its 16th Sustainable Development Goal for the world. In fact, said Gallup, one of the metrics in the index, the proportion of people who feel safe walking alone around the area where they live, is one of the indicators of Goal 16.
Just 17% of Venezuelans in 2017 said they feel safe walking alone in their area at night -- only slightly higher than the 12% who said so in 2016. According to Gallup, "This essentially puts Venezuelans on equal footing with residents of embattled Afghanistan, where 20% said they feel safe walking alone at night."
Among the 10 countries in which residents are least likely to say they feel safe walking alone at night, five are in Latin America. Another four are in sub-Saharan Africa -- including two of that region's more economically developed countries, South Africa (31%) and Botswana (34%). However, income inequality remains an issue in both.
In most economically developed countries with strong rule of law, high majorities of residents say they feel safe walking alone in their areas at night. "This response is nearly universal in Singapore at 94% and tops 80% in many Western European countries. The U.S. is considerably farther down the list, at 72%," said Gallup.