Wednesday, October 11, 2006
What are the benefits ...
A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.
I am not an expert in these types of studies, but the methodology seems sound (assuming that they actually got a representative random sample, people correctly remember when family members died, and that we assume that Iraq would have stayed on the pre-war trend in the absense of the invasion -- all of which seem reasonable to me). Here's the discussion of what they did:
The survey was conducted between May 20 and July 10 by eight Iraqi physicians organized through Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. They visited 1,849 randomly selected households that had an average of seven members each. One person in each household was asked about deaths in the 14 months before the invasion and in the period after.
The interviewers asked for death certificates 87 percent of the time; when they did, more than 90 percent of households produced certificates.
According to the survey results, Iraq's mortality rate in the year before the invasion was 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people; in the post-invasion period it was 13.3 deaths per 1,000 people per year. The difference between these rates was used to calculate "excess deaths."
Of the 629 deaths reported, 87 percent occurred after the invasion. A little more than 75 percent of the dead were men, with a greater male preponderance after the
invasion. For violent post-invasion deaths, the male-to-female ratio was 10-to-1, with most victims between 15 and 44 years old.
Gunshot wounds caused 56 percent of violent deaths, with car bombs and other explosions causing 14 percent, according to the survey results. Of the violent deaths that occurred after the invasion, 31 percent were caused by coalition forces or airstrikes, the respondents said.
Burnham said that the estimate of Iraq's pre-invasion death rate -- 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people -- found in both of the Hopkins surveys was roughly the same estimate used by the CIA and the U.S. Census Bureau. He said he believes that attests to the accuracy of his team's results.
He thinks further evidence of the survey's robustness is that the steepness of the upward trend it found in excess deaths in the last two years is roughly the same tendency found by other groups -- even though the actual numbers differ greatly.
An independent group of researchers and biostatisticians based in England produces the Iraq Body Count. It estimates that there have been 44,000 to 49,000 civilian deaths since the invasion. An Iraqi nongovernmental organization estimated 128,000 deaths between the invasion and July 2005.
The survey cost about $50,000 and was paid for by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]