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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.