Saturday, January 12, 2008

IFHS Versus L1

Some Lancet supporters claim that the results from IFHS support L1. I think that this is wrong. Consider a comment by me from Crooked Timber.

The issue before us is: How does the 151,000 estimate of violent deaths in all of Iraq from IFHS compare with L1? Now, since the surveys use different terminology over a different time scale, we will not be able to make an exact comparison. But, L1 reports 73 violent deaths in all of Iraq post-invasion compared to 1 pre-invasion (from the phantom US bombing runs, no doubt.) (See Table 2.) Speaking very roughly each excess death in the sample corresponds to 3,000 or so deaths in the population. So, for all of Iraq, there were around 200,000 violent deaths in L1 through September 2004. (I am obviously skirting over the, in this context, unimportant distinction between violent deaths and excess violent deaths.)

IFHS estimates 151,000 violent deaths through June 2006. Relative to IFHS, the L1 estimate is ludicrously high.

Again, this is just back of the envelope, but I wanted to help Tim clean out his garage, following Kieran’s kind suggestion.

Now, Tim might argue that we need to exclude Falluja for this that or the other reason. Fine. If the L1 authors had just dropped Falluja from all of their analysis (or included it everywhere or done both), I wouldn’t have objected so much. But they picked and chose. Yet, in this context, you don’t get to play that game. The IFHS authors estimate 151,000. That is their number. You can either try to get numbers out of L1 that are comparable to that (as I do above). Or you can claim that such a comparison is impossible. But you can’t just claim the comparison works for the subset of the IFHS data that you want to look at.


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