Allowing for inflation, what was the total cost for the entire war?

I am interested in totals for all countries involved, all war-related manufacturing, mobilisation, man-power, consumables etc.

  • 2
    How about the cost of destruction? E.g., should rebuilding European and Japanese infrastructure be included?
    – sds
    May 19 '17 at 18:47
  • 2
    We can't afford another.
    – davidlol
    May 19 '17 at 21:38
  • 1
    Theoretically possible to assemble the total value of goods and services produced for the war. Not possible to measure the opportunity cost - the number of doctors/lawyers/plumbers/steelworkers/ whose production was diverted to military use or who died and never produced again. Not possible to measure the opportunity cost resulting from the changes in society. tl:dr - we can give you a number, but the number has no meaning, there is no way to establish whether my guess is better than @sds ' guess, etc. Why do you want to know?
    – MCW
    May 19 '17 at 22:17

This is a quora-worthy question: the way it is asked, no direct answer will make the reader any wiser. E.g., the US WW2 cost was $296B (current), which is FY2011$4,104B or FY2008$4,114B (apparently, we experienced deflation in 2008-2011 - I did not notice).

WW2 was a major historical event, and ascribing it a price tag (monty python) makes about as much sense as saying something like "19th century cost was $X". Moreover, from the historical perspective, WW2 is inseparable from WW1 - we need to attach a price tag to 35 years of human history.

WW2 involved a lot of unproductive expense - weapons, ammo, &c. It involved a lot of destruction; Germany, European Russia, Japan were pretty much devastated. ~70M people died (give or take 10-20% - we will probably never know how many people in China and Russia died).

During the war and its aftermath (you don't think that in 1945 everyone got back home to live in peace, do you?) millions of people were displaced.

At the same time WW2 spurred a lot of technological progress (nukes, radars, rockets, jets), and we are both reaping benefits and paying costs of those changes even now.

An unprecedented Eastern migration of Soviet industry changed the face of Siberia.

Shipbuilding was revolutionized.

Role of women all over the world dramatically expanded.

Higher education became more accessible.

Now, put $$$ cost/benefit on this...

PS. A more limited question may actually make sense.

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