An Estimation of the Economic Impact of Violent Victimization in Canada, 2009

Conclusion

Summary of Results

Table G.5 presents a summary of all economic impacts of victimization of assault, criminal harassment, homicide, robbery, and sexual assault and other sexual offences. The total economic impact of victimization of these five crimes in 2009 in Canada is estimated at $12.7 billion.

Table G.5A: Summary of costs - Assault
Cost category or item Female victims Male victims Total
Justice system costs
Criminal justice system costs $224,008,173 $333,028,499 $557,036,672
Total Justice system costs $224,008,173 $333,028,499 $557,036,672
Victim costs
Medical costs $64,869,527 $39,852,413 $104,721,940
Lost productivity $173,222,452 $172,601,470 $345,823,922
Intangible costs $350,108,996 $687,974,515 $1,038,083,511
Other costs $1,679,936 $4,717,205 $6,397,141
Total Victim costs $589,880,912 $905,145,603 $1,495,026,515
Third-party costs
Employer losses $11,764,694 $6,920,336 $18,685,030
Social services operating costs $14,482,078 $3,450,860 $17,932,938
Total Third-party costs $26,246,772 $10,371,197 $36,617,969
Total Assault $840,135,857 $1,248,545,299 $2,088,681,156
Table G.5B: Summary of costs - Criminal Harassment
Cost category or item Female victims Male victims Total
Justice system costs
Criminal justice system costs $156,532,189 $119,114,118 $275,646,307
Civil justice system costs $3,503,935 $423,801 $3,927,735
Total Justice system costs $160,036,124 $119,537,918 $279,574,042
Justice system costs
Medical costs $60,794,438 $12,087,013 $72,881,451
Other costs $90,047,177 $30,309,464 $120,356,641
Total Victim costs $150,841,616 $42,396,476 $193,238,092
Total Criminal Harassment $310,877,739 $161,934,394 $472,812,134
Table G.5C: Summary of costs - Homicide
Cost category or item Female victims Male victims Total
Justice system costs
Criminal Justice system costs $33,193,046 $138,375,464 $171,568,510
Total Justice system costs $33,193,046 $138,375,464 $171,568,510
Victim costs
Medical costs $494,445 $3,312,184 $3,806,629
Intangible costs $628,253,405 $2,830,835,929 $3,459,089,333
Total Victim costs $628,747,850 $2,834,148,113 $3,462,895,962
Third-party costs
Social services operating costs $882,081 $2,480,852 $3,362,932
Intangible costs $12,558,750 $56,588,250 $69,147,000
Other costs $465,592 $2,098,050 $2,563,643
Total Homicide $675,847,318 $3,033,690,729 $3,709,538,047
Table G.5D: Summary of costs - Robbery
Cost category or item Female victims Male victims Total
Justice system costs
Criminal Justice system costs $249,278,137 $463,584,107 $712,862,245
Total Justice system costs $249,278,137 $463,584,107 $712,862,245
Victim costs
Medical costs $24,006,280 $6,601,236 $30,607,516
Lost productivity $76,190,058 $85,437,553 $161,627,612
Intangible costs $250,778,892 $300,575,966 $551,354,858
Other costs $31,362,523 $95,538,942 $126,901,466
Total Victim costs $382,337,754 $488,153,697 $870,491,451
Third-party costs
Employer losses $4,679,644 $3,684,526 $8,364,170
Social services operating costs $3,141,049 $509,228 $3,650,277
Total Third-party costs $7,820,693 $4,193,754 $12,014,447
Total Robbery $639,436,585 $955,931,559 $1,595,368,143
Table G.5E: Summary of costs - Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Offences
Cost category or item Female victims Male victims Total
Justice system costs
Criminal justice system costs $137,693,965 $12,355,133 $150,049,098
Total Justice system costs $137,693,965 $12,355,133 $150,049,098
Victim costs
Medical costs $64,133,011 $48,988,297 $113,121,308
Lost productivity $210,169,873 $676,900 $210,846,773
Intangible costs $3,140,618,999 $1,151,014,152 $4,291,633,150
Other costs $576,966 $0 $576,966
Total Victim costs $3,415,498,849 $1,200,679,349 $4,616,178,197
Third-party costs
Employer losses $8,872,446 $9,555,258 $18,427,704
Social services operating costs $26,208,747 $5,729,081 $31,937,827
Third-party costs $35,081,192 $15,284,339 $50,365,531
Total Sexual assault and other sexual offences $3,588,274,006 $1,228,318,820 $4,816,592,826
Table G.5F: Summary of Costs by Crime Category
Cost category or item Female victims Male victims Total
Assault $840,135,857 $1,248,545,299 $2,088,681,156
Criminal Harassment $310,877,739 $161,934,394 $472,812,134
Homicide $675,847,318 $3,033,690,729 $3,709,538,047
Robbery $639,436,585 $955,931,559 $1,595,368,143
Sexual assault and other sexual offences $3,588,274,006 $1,228,318,820 $4,816,592,826
Total Costs $6,054,571,506 $6,628,420,801 $12,682,992,307

Note: Categories in bolded font are summations of the cost items listed under those categories.

The left pie chart in Chart G.7 shows the proportion of tangible and intangible costs, and the tangible costs are further broken down in the right pie by who actually pays for the cost, as opposed to who bears the burden of the impact. Three groups of parties who pay are analyzed: the state, individuals (including victims), and businesses.

Chart G.7: Tangible vs. Intangible Costs and Tangible costs by Who Pays

Text version of Chart G.7 below

Text version of Chart G.7

A pie-of-pie chart depicts a breakdown of the total costs for the 5 types of victimization (assault, criminal harassment, homicide, robbery, and sexual assault and other sexual offences) exemined in this study. The pie on the left is divided into intangible and tangible costs where intangible costs represent about 74% of the total costs. More specifically, intangible costs were estimated to be $9.41 billion while tangible costs were approximately $3.27 billion. The pie on the right further breaks down the tangible costs by who actually pays of the costs. Of the $3.27 billion of tangible costs, 64% ($2.08 billion) was paid by the state/governent, 33% (1.07 billion) was borne by victims and the remaining 4% (0.12 billion) was borne by the private sector.

Concluding Remarks

Crime is a major issue in Canada and it has a major impact on the lives of Canadians. This report finds that non-spousal, adult victimization of assault, criminal harassment, homicide, robbery, and sexual assault and other sexual offences in 2009 cost Canadians at least $12.7 billion in the form of tangible and intangible costs. The victims bear the greatest burden of the impacts, much of it intangible, and family, friends, and employers can also be burdened. The impacts are eventually felt by all Canadians in the form of public spending on the justice system and social services.

Costing, the process of estimating the economic impacts of some program or social phenomenon, has seen improvements in methodology and data availability since it was introduced as a research tool, and recent interest in and support for costing from official parties has increased the demand for this type of work. While Canada, historically, has not been as active in the cost analysis field as the UK, Australia, and the US, the Department of Justice Canada has completed a number of important costing reports since Zhang’s (2011) Costs of Crime in Canada, 2008. Zhang et al.’s (2012) An Estimation of the Economic Impact of Spousal Violence in Canada, 2009 focuses specifically on spousal violence, and contributes research to the intimate partner violence literature that will help guide future discussion and scholarship. By providing a measurement of the cost magnitude of social phenomena (e.g., crime), interested parties can better understand the issues and relevant problems. With a common unit of measurement (i.e., money), the results of costing work on different social issues can be compared to better understand the wider societal picture.

While great progress has been made in the costing field, challenges still remain. The greatest challenges are data limitations, which are significant despite the increase in data available for research. A lack of data across topics and jurisdictions still restricts the possibilities and accuracy of costing analyses, and the low quality of some data can also be a factor in limiting the usefulness of results. Research on the costs of crime in particular would benefit from better data collection or data quality in the following areas, some of which are also listed in Zhang et al. (2012):

  • police, court, and prosecution resources (time and expenditures) devoted to each offence type;
  • costs of probation, conditional sentence, parole, and monitoring offenders in the community more generally;
  • costs associated with Review Boards and treatment in cases where the accused is found Unfit to Stand Trial or Not Criminally Responsible;
  • compatibility and links between court sentencing data and corrections data (e.g., offender file goes through both systems);
  • tangible impacts of experiencing physical or mental effects of crime victimization (e.g., medication for mental health effects and physical therapy costs for injured victims);
  • costs of interpretation for police, courts where victims speak neither English nor French or have communicative disabilities;
  • in cases of death of victim, legal costs attendant to death – probate of will, establishment of legal guardian for children;
  • complete list of (and differentiation between) services used by victims as stated in surveys;
  • primary reasons for undertaking certain actions as stated in surveys (e.g., installed burglar alarm or changed residences)
  • services to victims not captured through the Victim Services Survey (which includes only those services that receive funding through a Justice or Public Safety Ministry or Department);
  • comprehensive catalogue of all government costs;
  • impacts (including fear and limiting opportunities) on family, friends, and wider society.

This list is not exhaustive and is only given as an indication of the challenges that are currently limiting costing work. Research on the criminal justice system in particular would benefit greatly from linking data from police reports and charging through the entire system to sentencing and corrections. Discussion on the viability of addressing these data gaps is the next step, and time and effort in the proper areas can lead to better data in Canada.

It is hoped that this research will prove valuable to any parties interested in criminal issues, and especially to those committed to combating crime in Canada. This study is another step toward the goal of accurately quantifying the economic impacts of crime victimization, and together with future research on the cost effectiveness of crime prevention and justice programs Canadians can better understand the potential economic effects of reducing crime.

Date modified: