Sunday, May 15, 2005

Brother, Can You Spare a Questionnaire?

The United Nations is making great progress in Iraq... No, the UN hasn't alleviated any of the problems faced by Iraqis, but the international organization has completed yet another survey gauging how Iraqis feel about their living conditions.

I'll need to go back and check any relevant data to my entry about the last UN study about starving children in Iraq, Let Them Eat Questionnaires. In the meantime, Shannon Love has posted an excellent (I mean highly recommended) introduction to the Iraq Living Conditions Survey of 2004 (ILCS) at Chicago Boyz. One interesting observation Shannon makes is the comparison between the estimated war deaths in this new study and the 100,000 total war-related deaths in the ignominious Lancet Study.

LIMS looked at changes in mortality from all causes. The 100,000 figure (what the authors call a "conservative" estimate) includes death from illness and accident, crime, insurgents/terrorists and Coalition actions. The percentage breakdown in deaths (excluding the Falluja cluster) was 66% from violent causes and 33% from non-violent causes. That means that crudely the Lancet study reports 66,000 deaths from violence. Most of those deaths (57%) resulted from the non-Coalition actors, who where either insurgents or economic criminals. If the ILCS did not include crime in their "war-related" category, and we include deaths that occurred after after the end of May 2004, then the ILCS deaths could bubble up to 30,000 or so. On the other hand, LIMS excluded military deaths from its estimate whereas the ILCS seems to include them, so perhaps it all cancels out.

The ILCS authors do imply that their 24,000 figure matches the LIMS 100,000 figure because they refer to it directly [Analytical Report logical page 54]:

Another source (Roberts et al. 2004) estimates the number to be 98,000, with a confidence interval of 8,000 to 194,000. The website Iraq Body Count estimates that between 14,619 and 16,804 deaths have occurred between the beginning of 2003 and 7 December 2004 (IBC 2004).

Since the LIMS executive summary makes it clear that it measures all sources of mortality I think it safe to assume that the ILCS considers "war-related" deaths to cover the same causes of deaths as LIMS. Moreover, the Iraqi ministries rejected the LIMS conclusions when they were originally published, stating that their own research showed nothing like the death rate reported by LIMS. Since the ILCS had already been conducted they may have been relying on its then-unpublished data to reject the LIMS.

The big question that immediately comes to mind is why I don't have Chicago Boyz on my Blog Roll?!?!?!


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