A new study, due to be published on The Lancet’s website today, has found that there have been 655,000 “excess” Iraqi deaths since the US invaded, compared to how many would have died if previous death rates had continued. The confidence interval is from 426,369 to 793,663 deaths. From the Washington Post:
The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq’s mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.
Of the total 655,000 estimated “excess deaths,” 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country. [...]
The same group in 2004 published an estimate of roughly 100,000 deaths in the first 18 months after the invasion. That figure was much higher than expected, and was controversial. The new study estimates that about 500,000 more Iraqis, both civilian and military, have died since then — a finding likely to be equally controversial.[...]
While acknowledging that the estimate is large, the researchers believe it is sound for numerous reasons. The recent survey got the same estimate for immediate post-invasion deaths as the early survey, which gives the researchers confidence in the methods.[..]
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.”[...]
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.
As I argued last year, the earlier survey is “controversial” only in the sense that global warming and evolution are “controversial.” The dispute over the earlier study was not a genuine dispute about survey technique; it was more of a dispute between reality and right-wing ideology.
Like the earlier study, this study found that the large majority of Iraqis killed have been male:
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.
[Crossposted at Creative Destruction. If your comments aren’t being approved here, try there.]