NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Economic Consequences of a War in Iraq

William D. Nordhaus

NBER Working Paper No. 9361
Issued in December 2002
NBER Program(s):   EFG   PE

Much has been written about the national-security aspects of a potential conflict with Iraq, but there are no studies of the cost. A review of several past wars indicates that nations historically have consistently underestimated the cost of military conflicts. This study reviews the potential costs of a conflict including the postwar expenses that might be required for occupation, humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, nation-building along with the implications for oil markets and macroeconomic activity. It considers two potential scenarios that span the potential outcomes, ranging from a short and relatively conflict-free case to protracted conflict with difficult and expensive postwar reconstruction and occupation. The estimates of the cost to the United States over the decade following hostilities range from $100 billion to $1.9 trillion.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9361

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