Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Comparing the Costs of the World Wars

A Cold War Euphemism for These Was "Expendables"

I found this interesting table below in a 2002 paper titled  "THE ECONOMICS OF WORLD WAR I: AN OVERVIEW" by Stephen Broadberry and Mark Harrison of University of Warwick, Coventry. I can't vouch for the precision of the statistics (I think they made a mistake on the number of continents for WWI), but it does show in broad scope some of the similarities and differences in the two world wars. 


  1. The number of continents is certainly wrong, but I would suggest that there were also deaths among partisans and in concentration camps. And a lot of aircraft were produced during WW1.
    Jim Cameron

  2. Some bad math, too. For WW1 the destruction & looting is too large (and also the same as for WW2. It seems likely that the correct number for WW1 is 62, not 316. Also, the again for WW1 the direct and indirect losses don't add up to the economic loss. It seems likely that the indirect loss should be 276, not 258.

  3. You forgot the g that took place in Africa and in China and the Pacific.

  4. The first experience was governed by an old illusion, and the present experience by a new one. World War II, on the other hand, with the imperative of Pearl Harbor supplying an understood cause and purpose, did not sow doubt and self-mistrust. It was clear why we had got in and what was the end in view. But as will certainly be the case with Vietnam, so for twenty years after World War I historical controversy raged over how and why we got into it, and the question is still being probed and re-examined. I liked your blog, Take the time to visit the me and say that the change in design and meniu?