The research revealed a direct link between the uncertainty of living in a violent setting, even for those not directly involved in the violence, and a double burden of shorter and less predictable lives.
According to the study, violent deaths are responsible for a high proportion of the differences in lifetime uncertainty between violent and peaceful countries.
But it pointed out that the impact of violence on mortality goes beyond cutting live short. When lives are routinely lost to violence, those left behind face uncertainty as to who will be next.
“What we found most striking is that lifetime uncertainty has a greater association with violence than life expectancy. Lifetime uncertainty, therefore, should not be overlooked when analyzing changes in mortality patterns,” said Lead author Dr. José Manuel Aburto from Oxford’s Leverhulme Center for Demographic Science and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Using mortality data from 162 countries, and the Internal Peace Index between 2008–2017, the study shows the most violent countries are also those with the highest lifetime uncertainty.
In the Middle East, conflict-related deaths at young ages are the biggest contributor to this, while in Latin America, a similar pattern results from homicides and interpersonal violence.
Poverty-insecurity-violence cycles magnify pre-existing structural patterns of disadvantage for women and fundamental imbalances in gender relations at young ages.
In some Latin American countries, female homicides have increased over the last decades and exposure to violent environments brings health and social burdens, particularly for children and women.
Study co-author Professor Ridhi Kashyap, from the Leverhulme Center, says, “Whilst men are the major direct victims of violence, women are more likely to experience non-fatal consequences in violent contexts.