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How dangerous is the Iraq war?

WASHINGTON — Here's how the risk of death among U.S. troops in Iraq varies by rank, service and other factors, according to a new University of Pennsylvania analysis:

  • The death rate for deployed Marines in Iraq is 8.59 per thousand per year, more than twice that of the Army, nine times that of the Navy and 20 times that of the Air Force. Navy and Air Force personnel serving in Iraq have lower death rates than comparable civilians at home.
  • Enlisted personnel in the Army and Marines are significantly more likely to be killed than officers. Army privates first class and Marine lance corporals have the highest risks in their services; lieutenants have the highest risks among Marine and Army officers.
  • Active-duty Army death rates are three times those of Army Reserves; the National Guard is in the middle. Marine active duty and reserve risks are equally high.
  • Older troops, women and African-Americans are killed at lower rates; Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian and Pacific Islanders at higher rates.
  • The Iraq troop-death rate overall is less than half the death rate for the U.S. civilian population when all ages are included.
  • The study, co-authored by demographers Samuel Preston and Emily Buzzell and titled "Mortality of American Troops in the Iraq War," appears in the September issue of the peer-reviewed journal Population and Development Review. Overall death risks are based on an analysis of 2,706 deaths among U.S. troops in Iraq from March 20, 2003, when the first occurred, to Sept. 30, 2006. Risks relative to service, rank, race and other factors are based on deployments and outcomes through Nov. 30, 2006.


    You can read an abstract of the Population and Development Review article. The publisher charges a fee for the full article.

    You can read an earlier complete draft free at the University of Pennsylvania library's site.

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