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Collared by crime - Security concerns hinder Jamaica's move up prosperity index

Published:Tuesday | November 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall/Associate Editor

Jamaica scored poorly in the category of safety and security but still gained four places, moving into the 54th position in this year's Legatum Institute Prosperity Index, which captured data from 149 countries.

The ranking placed Jamaica eighth of the 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in the ranking produced over the past 12 years by the Legatum Institute, which is an independent educational charity based in London, England.

Following the release of the index yesterday, director of policy at the Legatum Institute, Dr Stephen Brien, told The Gleaner that Jamaica has seen the greatest increase in prosperity in the region over the past five years and would have scored even higher if the security conditions in the island were better.

"When you think about security, we look at it in three areas. National security, which is terrorism and deaths through war, and I would not think that is the thing to worry about for Jamaica. The next area is personal safety, which is violent crimes, homicides, stolen property, walking home at nights - these are the areas where I would advise Jamaica to focus on in terms of safety and security," said Brien during an exclusive interview.

"In terms of personal security, Jamaica is 131st, ranking out of the 149 countries. We see that this area is one which Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular, is rather weak on. So Jamaica should focus on violent crime, homicide, and that could make a difference to people's quality of life."




He noted that despite crime, Jamaica has emerged as "a good riser" in prosperity over the past 10 years, with improvement in areas such as health, education and the natural environment.

"From our index's point of view, these areas have all seen improvements. These are all very good indicators for the future, and I think the foundations for Jamaica's prosperity are being laid now," said Brien.

The Legatum Prosperity Index is a framework that assesses countries on the promotion of their citizens' flourishing, reflecting both wealth and well-being.

It captures the aspects of a prosperous life, moving beyond traditional macroeconomic measurements of a nation's prosperity, which rely solely on indicators of wealth such as average income per person (GDP per capita).