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The Psychological Costs of War: Military Combat and Mental Health

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  • Resul Cesur
  • Joseph J. Sabia
  • Erdal Tekin

Abstract

While descriptive evidence suggests that deployment in the Global War on Terrorism is associated with adverse mental health, the causal effect of combat is not well established. Using data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we exploit exogenous variation in deployment assignment and find that soldiers deployed to combat zones where they engage in frequent enemy firefight or witness allied or civilian deaths are at substantially increased risk for suicidal ideation, psychological counseling, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our estimates imply lower-bound health care costs of $1.5 to $2.7 billion for combat-induced PTSD.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16927.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Publication status: published as Cesur, Resul & Sabia, Joseph J. & Tekin, Erdal, 2013. "The psychological costs of war: Military combat and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 51-65.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16927

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  1. Chris Rohlfs, 2010. "Does Combat Exposure Make You a More Violent or Criminal Person? Evidence from the Vietnam Draft," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(2).
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  6. Cesur, Resul & Sabia, Joseph J. & Tekin, Erdal, 2011. "The Psychological Costs of War: Military Combat and Mental Health," IZA Discussion Papers 5615, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Hirsch, Barry & Mehay, Stephen L., 2003. "Evaluating the Labor Market Performance of Veterans Using a Matched Comparison Group Design," IZA Discussion Papers 740, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  15. Yu-Chu Shen & Jeremy Arkes & Boon Wah Kwan & Lai Yee Tan & Thomas V. Williams, 2009. "The Effect of OEF/OIF Deployment Intensity on the Rate of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Active Duty Population," NBER Working Papers 15203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Olga Shemyakina & Anke Plagnol, 2013. "Subjective Well-Being and Armed Conflict: Evidence from Bosnia-Herzegovina," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 1129-1152, September.
  2. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Tekin, Erdal, 2011. "Fathers and Youth's Delinquent Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 6042, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Lindo, Jason M. & Stoecker, Charles, 2010. "Drawn into Violence: Evidence on 'What Makes a Criminal' from the Vietnam Draft Lotteries," IZA Discussion Papers 5172, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Sebastian Negrusa & Brighita Negrusa & James Hosek, 2014. "Gone to war: have deployments increased divorces?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 473-496, April.
  5. D. Mark Anderson & Resul Cesur & Erdal Tekin, 2012. "Youth Depression and Future Criminal Behavior," NBER Working Papers 18656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ryan D. Edwards, 2012. "Overseas Deployment, Combat Exposure, and Well-Being in the 2010 National Survey of Veterans," NBER Working Papers 18227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bruno Frey, 2012. "Well-being and war," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 59(4), pages 363-375, December.
  8. Cesur, Resul & Sabia, Joseph J. & Tekin, Erdal, 2011. "The Psychological Costs of War: Military Combat and Mental Health," IZA Discussion Papers 5615, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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