Sure to start controversy, a new Lancet study puts Iraqi deaths related to violence since the March 2003 invasion at 600,000. (Via DeLong.) In The Wall Street Journal Online:
A new study asserts that roughly 600,000 Iraqis have died from violence since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, a figure many times higher than any previous estimate.
The study, to be published Saturday in the British medical journal the Lancet, was conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health by sending teams of Iraqi doctors across Iraq from May through July. The findings are sure to draw fire from skeptics and could color the debate over the war ahead of congressional elections next month.
The Defense Department until 2004 eschewed any effort to compute the number of Iraqi dead but this summer released a study putting the civilian casualty rate between May and August at 117 people a day. Other tabulations using different methodologies put the range of total civilian fatalities so far from about 50,000 to more than 150,000. President Bush in December said “30,000, more or less” had died in Iraq during the invasion and in the violence since.
The Johns Hopkins team conducted its study using a methodology known as “cluster sampling.” That involved randomly picking 47 clusters of households for a total 1,849 households, scattered across Iraq. Team members interviewed each household about any deaths in the family during the 40 months since the invasion, as well as in the year before the invasion. The team says it reviewed death certificates for 92% of all deaths reported. Based on those figures, it tabulated national mortality rates for various periods before and after the start of the war. The mortality rate last year was nearly four times the preinvasion rate, the study found.
(The study can be found here.)