Technology and the Era of the Mass Army
AbstractWe provide the first systematic examination of the determinants of military mobilization over the very long run. Focusing on a sample of thirteen great powers between 1600 and 2000 we argue that changes in transport and communications technology were the single most important factor in both ushering in the era of the mass army and in leading to its eventual demise. During the nineteenth century the development of the railroad made it possible for the first time to mobilize and feed armies numbering in the millions. During the late twentieth century further advances in transport and communications technology made it possible to deliver explosive force from a distance and with precision, making mass armies less desirable. We find strong support for our technological interpretation using a new data set that measures army size, population mobilization, and methods of recruitment from the beginning of the seventeenth century. In so doing we also consider several other plausible determinants of military mobilization. Contrary to what is so often suggested by scholars, we find little evidence that the French Revolution and the invention of the concept of "the nation in arms" was associated with a substantial increase in levels of mobilization across nations. Even for the French case alone, the magnitude of what is sometimes referred to as the "Napoleonic watershed" was smaller than what is often believed.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca in its series Working Papers with number 5/2012.
Length: 70 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision: Jul 2013
Military; Security; Soldiers; Technological Change; Technology; Technology Adoption; War; Warfare;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- F52 - International Economics - - International Relations and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
- N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
- N7 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services
- O33 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
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- Dincecco, Mark, 2009. "Fiscal Centralization, Limited Government, and Public Revenues in Europe, 1650–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(01), pages 48-103, March.
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