Job Opportunity Cost of War

by: Heidi Garrett-Peltier

May 25, 2017 |
Research Report

New research finds that federal spending on domestic programs creates far more American jobs and yields more broad-based benefits than military spending. In a report published by Brown University's Watson Institute, Heidi Garrett-Peltier shows that investments in education and healthcare create more than twice as many jobs as defense for the same level of spending, while clean energy and infrastructure create over 40 percent more jobs. In fact, over the past 16 years, by spending money on war rather than in these other areas of the domestic economy, the US lost the opportunity to create between one million and three million additional jobs.

In a report published by Brown University's Watson Institute, Heidi Garrett-Peltier finds that federal spending on domestic programs in health care, education, clean energy and infrastructure creates more jobs, dollar for dollar, than military spending. The report documents how many jobs are created in a variety of domestic sectors for every million dollars of federal money spent compared to the number of jobs created for the same amount spent on defense. Garrett-Peltier finds that domestic spending outpaces military spending in job creation by 21 percent (for wind energy development) to 178 percent (for elementary and secondary education).

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