Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Marines vs. Fishermen

In the Iraq vs. Philly post, I wondered how the fatality rate of a job in the military compared with other dangerous jobs. I emailed the author of the Op-Ed and he was kind enough to send me the working draft of the paper he is writing.

So which is the more dangerous job, a fisherman or a Marine?

Based on the data provided (Table 2), a Marine has a death rate of 8.48 per 1,000 or 848 per 100,000 for the time he spends in Iraq. But, 70 of those deaths come from non-combat violent deaths and 14 from deaths from disease (actually these are averages for all military, but I will assume it is close for Marines) vs rates of 98 and 43 for the men aged 20-34 living in the US (Table 1). I am not going to consider that part of job, but rather just part of being a young male and removing it from the comparison. That leaves us at 848-84= 764 deaths per 100,000. I am also going to assume that if you sign up for the Marines you enlist for 2 years of which one is training, so that only 1/2 of your time is spent in Iraq. I will also assume that the death rate for being in training is zero (or close enough that it isn't important). That leaves the "on the job" fatality rate for a Marine over his two years at (764/2=) 382 per 100,000.

Based on this report from the BLS the highest fatality rate for any job category is fishers and related fishing work at 118.4 per 100,000. If you would like to see what makes this so dangerous, check out the Discovery Channel's The Deadliest Catch.

The fatality rate is therefore (382/118.4=) 3.2 times as high for Marines. Definitely more dangerous to be a Marine than a fisherman but they are closer than one might expect. In fact, you would would reduce your chance of dying more by switching your job from a fisherman to a construction worker (fatality rate 22.7) which would reduce your chance of dying by 81% (118.4 down to 22.7) than you would by switching from a marine to a fisherman which would reduce your chance of dying by 69% (382 down to 118).

What about other branches of the military? I believe that almost all Marines are front line troops and would guess that front line combatants in other branches of the military would have a similar rate of death as the Marines. The reason for the other branch's lower levels have to do with the higher percentage of troops which are not on the front line.

The rate of death for the army is 394 per 100,000. Once again removing the non-combat violent deaths and deaths from disease and assuming that 1/2 of an army enlistee's time is spent in Iraq the rate becomes 155 per 100,000. This still makes it more dangerous that a fisherman, but only 1.3 times as high.

The rate of death in the navy and air force is 83 and 40 per 100,000 respectively. This is actually lower than the average non-combat violent deaths and deaths from diseases for all branches. I don't know how to explain this, but obviously it is much more lower for these branches. I have no idea what it would be, so I will just ignore it for now and know that these values will be slightly high. Assuming once again that 1/2 of the time is spent in Iraq (not sure how good of an assumption that is for these branches they might actually spend less time in Iraq) that would put the rates at 42 and 20. This is quite a bit lower than the fisherman, and close to that of a refuse and recyclable materials collector (aka garbage men) at 43.8 and construction laborers (22.7). The average fatality rate for all workers in the US is 4.0 per 100,000.

Overall, enlisting in the US military while we are at war in Iraq is dangerous but not as dangerous as you might think.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Wow... I did my own research because I am joining the Marines and here is what I figured. Every year the Marines recruit just over 10,000 people and since 9-11-02 the Marines have recruited just over 100,000 people. On HLN, (Head Line News) they show the death count just over 4,000. Thats like 4% since we've been there which really isn't much compared to the enemy's death count. I even told my girlfriend that The Deadliest Catch has a higher death rate.

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