IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/harjfk/rwp06-002.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years after the Beginning of the Conflict

Author

Listed:
  • Bilmes, Linda

    (Harvard U)

  • Stiglitz, Joseph E.

    (Columbia U)

Abstract

Three years ago, as America was preparing to go to war in Iraq, there were few discussions of the likely costs. When Larry Lindsey, President Bush’s economic adviser, suggested that they might reach $200 billion, there was a quick response from the White House: that number was a gross overestimation. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz claimed that Iraq could “really finance its own reconstruction,” apparently both underestimating what was required and the debt burden facing the country. Lindsey went on to say that “The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy.” Many aspects of the Iraq venture have turned out differently from what was purported before the war: there were no weapons of mass destruction, no clear link between Al Qaeda and Iraq, no imminent danger that would warrant a pre-emptive war. Whether Americans were greeted as liberators or not, there is evidence that that they are now viewed as occupiers. Stability has not been established. Clearly, the benefits of the War have been markedly different from those claimed. So too for the costs. It now appears that Lindsey was indeed wrong—by grossly underestimating the costs.... The Congressional Budget Office has now estimated that in their central, mid-range scenario, the Iraq war will cost over $266 billion more in the next decade, putting the direct costs of the war in the range of $500 billion. These estimates, however, underestimate the War’s true costs to America by a wide margin. In this paper, we attempt to provide a range of estimates for what those costs have been, and are likely to be. Even taking a conservative approach, we have been surprised at how large they are. We can state, with some degree of confidence, that they exceed a trillion dollars.

Suggested Citation

  • Bilmes, Linda & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2006. "The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years after the Beginning of the Conflict," Working Paper Series rwp06-002, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp06-002
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=3319&type=WPN
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2005. "How Unobservable Productivity Biases the Value of a Statistical Life," NBER Working Papers 11659, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Rebeca Jimenez-Rodriguez & Marcelo Sanchez, 2005. "Oil price shocks and real GDP growth: empirical evidence for some OECD countries," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(2), pages 201-228.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Sofronis Clerides & Peter Davis & Antonis Michis, 2010. "The Impact of the Iraq War on US Consumer Goods Sales in Arab Countries," Working Paper series 25_10, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    2. Stergios Skaperdas, 2011. "The costs of organized violence: a review of the evidence," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-23, March.
    3. Samer Matta & Simon Appleton & Michael Bleaney, 2015. "The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Tunisian Economy," Discussion Papers 2015-09, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    4. Olaf J. de Groot, 2012. "Analyzing the costs of military engagement," Economics of Peace and Security Journal, EPS Publishing, vol. 7(2), pages 41-49, July.
    5. Patricia Justino, 2009. "The Impact of Armed Civil Conflict on Household Welfare and Policy Responses," HiCN Working Papers 61, Households in Conflict Network.
    6. Hans Gersbach & Philippe Muller & Oriol Tejada, 2015. "Costs of Change, Political Polarization, and Re-election Hurdles," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 15/222, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    7. Chad R. Wilkerson & Megan D. Williams, 2008. "How is the rise in national defense spending affecting the Tenth District economy?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 49-79.
    8. Tilman Brück & Olaf J de Groot & Friedrich Schneider, 2011. "The economic costs of the German participation in the Afghanistan war," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 48(6), pages 793-805, November.
    9. Gardeazabal, Javier, 2010. "Methods for Measuring Aggregate Costs of Conflict," DFAEII Working Papers 2010-09, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    10. Ryan D. Edwards, 2010. "A Review of War Costs in Iraq and Afghanistan," NBER Working Papers 16163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Riccardo Natoli & Segu Zuhair, 2011. "Measuring Progress: A Comparison of the GDP, HDI, GS and the RIE," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 103(1), pages 33-56, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp06-002. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/ksharus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.