Sunday, October 26, 2008

War Death Rate Comparisons

Thanks to Robby Doliber for suggesting this post.

In my post "Morbid Math," I determined the randomized chance of death while serving for one year as a soldier in Iraq at some time since the war began is 1 in 189, or 0.528%. How does this compare to previous wars? How about to the general population?

Vietnam: Suprisingly Similar for the Risk to Soldier
Vietnam also had tours of duty of approximately one year. During the first 6 years of the war (source: Traveler Online) (1960-1965, approximately how long we have been in Iraq), there were approximately 20,000 troops (so approximately 120,000 1-year tours), and there were 500 deaths, or an approximate rate of 0.417% or 1 in 240. Slightly lower than the Iraq war.

The war as a total had 58,193 deaths (National Archive) with a total number of 2,590,000 troops (over 10 years). This is a rate of 2.25% or 1 in 40.

World War II: Higher, and Longer Tours
400,000 dead over 4 years. 13.1 million troops served. Typical tour was 21 months (which is awful long). This is a rate of 3.05% or about 1 in 33. If you annualized it (which wouldn't make a whole lot of sense due to people being there on average longer), it would come to 1.74% or 1 in 57.

Current Death Rate in Civilian Population: 31 Times Less Likely to Die Violently
For 25-44 year olds it is 0.177%, or 1 in about 600. Overall it is much higher, but this would not really be comparable to wars. Violent deaths, which are even closer to war deaths, are 0.017% or 1 in 6000.