Economy

Economist Reappraises Iraq War Cost

On the Economix blog, Casey B. Mulligan notes that, "as the midterm elections approach, Democrats and Republicans will each try to convince us that their party wasted less tax money than the other."

Assuming that "the stimulus law and the Iraq war will be favorite examples," he decides to look at "economic principles for valuing the human cost of the war."

Mulligan tackles the accuracy of the Congressional Budget Office's most-recent cost estimate, which concluded that the U.S. has spent somewhere around $700 billion on the war in Iraq.

Taking into account human costs — military deaths and injuries, training, benefits, salary, "and any non-pecuniary benefits that military service offers," and veterans and health benefits, he concludes that the war is certain to cost much more than $700 billion, particularly since retirement expenditures "could continue for more than 100 years, although presumably at a reduced rate."

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