March 17, 2004


If I had to quantify it?

In the US, for the age group 25- 44 the death rate per 100,000 people is 177.8. The death rate of soldiers in Iraq is 443 per 100,000, only about 1/2 of which are from combat (people still get hit by cars and have heart attacks in a war).

Incidentally, The murder rate of young blacks in Washington DC is 435 per 100,000 (604 per 100,000 total death rate). This means that a soldier from the ghetto is more likely to die staying at home than going to be a soldier in Iraq.

The stats for soldiers are worst case. Their job is to protect the green zone and keep schmucks like me safe. On top of the military there is private security as well. In a typical foreign consulting contract ~4% of your budget would be dedicated to security, in Iraq it's typically more like 15-25% -- so a lot is done to keep everyone safe.

So, what are my numbers? It's hard to say for sure as I can't find death rates for civilian contractors in Iraq. But it's clear that it's safer than being a soldier. I will be safer than living in a US ghetto and will certainly be less than 3x as likely to die there than here.

With 3x as an outer bound I feel like it's a reasonable risk. We could swing our chances in the US of staying alive by a lot more than 3x simply by not driving or having sex (vehicle death is #1 in the US, AIDS #2). Do we bother? Of course not.

Posted by rick at March 17, 2004 01:16 PM