A Review of War Costs in Iraq and Afghanistan
As of this writing, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are in their eighth and tenth years, having accrued nearly a trillion dollars in direct military costs. I review the history of cost forecasts for these ongoing engagements, highlighting the differences across them in scope and accuracy, assessing the methods and practice of cost forecasting, and exploring the implications of the war costs themselves. Besides the unanticipated length and breadth of the military conflicts themselves, a related and equally important component of costs is the life cycle of costs associated with caring for veterans. The forecasts we have of such costs imply high levels of public spending per veteran and very high levels of costs associated with pain and suffering per veteran, as high as 10 to 25 percent of lifetime wealth. I also discuss the methods and motivations associated with war cost forecasts by comparing them with other types of aggregate forecasts, which are prone to similar types of errors. The history of war cost forecasts suggests that increasing their frequency and transparency may improve their usefulness in guiding policy.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2010|
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- Edwards, Ryan D., 2014.
"U.S. war costs: Two parts temporary, one part permanent,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 54-66.
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- Linda Bilmes & Joseph Stiglitz, 2006. "The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years After the Beginning of the Conflict," NBER Working Papers 12054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Michael Grossman, 2005.
"Education and Nonmarket Outcomes,"
NBER Working Papers
11582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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