What Is the Psychological Cost, in Dollars, of the War on Terror?

A new working paper (abstract here; PDF here) by Resul Cesur, Joseph J. Sabia, and Erdal Tekin attempts to answer:

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.


Jeremiah Stanghini

The psychological effects, both short- and long-term, as a result of being in a war-zone, are not necessarily completely quantifiable. Yes, there are healthcare costs that can be calculated and you can also account for the loss of "work" by those who would have otherwise been able to sustain "regular" hours at jobs. However, the kinds of psychological effects that ensue can also have effects on how one is able to function in the world. If one happens to be a parent, well, that child, will not get the same kind of parenting they would have otherwise had, should the parent not have been subjected to war-zones.

Similar to the theory put forth by the Freakonomics movie with regard to crime in the 90s being a result of Roe v. Wade, we could, possibly, see an increase in crime in years to come because of the lack of one (parent).

With Love and Gratitude,



How much would the health costs be if they were based on a first world health care system like the EU or Australia as opposed to the US? Also what % of the war budget is allocated to mental health?