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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 14:43 GMT
US economist questions Iraq costs
By Andrew Walker
BBC economics correspondent

US medics in Iraq try to save a soldier's life
The study includes costs official estimates do not
A Nobel prize-winning US economist has said the war in Iraq could cost the US far more than official estimates.

A study by Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University and Linda Bilmes, a budget expert from Harvard, concludes the cost could be two trillion dollars.

The figure is so large because, Professor Stiglitz says, it includes costs that official estimates do not.

The cost of the lifetime medical care for 16,000 injured American personnel, for example.

Health costs

Professor Stiglitz says 20% of injured US personnel have brain injuries, 6% have had amputations and another 20% have other serious injuries.

On the strength of evidence from previous conflicts, he said, still others will have various health and mental problems in the future.

There will be disability pay and health care costs to the US budget that will continue for several decades.

His figures also include the loss to the economy from injured people being unable to contribute as productively as they would other wise have done.

White House silence

He also brings the wider cost of higher oil prices, which he says are partly due to the conflict.

His analysis uses a figure of five dollars a barrel for the extra increase in the price of crude oil attributable to the war - though he says the true impact on the oil price could easily be significantly higher.

There has been no official response from the US administration to Professor Stiglitz's estimates.

He himself says that some people have been somewhat dismissive of his figures because he is a well known critic of the war.


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