PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies has released new papers on the effects of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
In the first paper, "The Job Opportunity Cost of War," economists Heidi Garrett-Peltier of UMass–Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute examines lost employment opportunities for Americans since 2001, due to the federal government’s spending on the War on Terror.
Garrett-Peltier finds that the $2.9 trillion in federal funds spent and obligated on the wars over the last 14 years has resulted in the loss of between 1 and 3 million jobs for Americans.
She concludes that if over the years 2001-14 resources that have been spent on the wars had been channeled into expanding the clean energy industry, broadening health care coverage, and increasing educational opportunities, the nation's unemployment level could have been reduced from 6.1 to 4.9 percent.
In the second paper, “Collective Reckoning with the Post-9/11 Wars on a Colorado Homefront,” cultural anthropologists Jean Scandlyn of University of Colorado–Denver and Sarah Hautzinger of Colorado College ask why post-traumatic stress disorder is so common among U.S. veterans and what other health conditions and everyday struggles lie behind this diagnosis.
The authors draw on five years of research with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, their families, mental health providers, and other residents of Colorado Springs, a city housing some 70,000 active-duty military personnel in addition to one of the largest populations of military retirees in the country. They highlight several problems that soldiers and their advocates face in getting support, including months-long wait lists for veterans to access health care and the military’s practice of offloading care work onto families without compensation.
In a June 2014 news release, Costs of War researchers estimated that the direct costs of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan now stand at more than 350,000 lives lost and $4.4 trillion spent and obligated. Indirectly, at minimum, another 250,000 lives have been lost to war-related causes such as loss of civilian access to food and health care, and another $8 trillion in interest on war debt may come due during the next 40 years.
Complete findings are available online. Catherine Lutz, the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies and co-director of the Costs of War project at Brown, is available for comment and analysis.
The Costs of War project has updated its data periodically since it was first announced in June 2011.