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On the Production of Victory: Empirical Determinants of Battlefield Success in Modern War

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Author Info

  • Rotte, Ralph

    ()
    (RWTH Aachen University)

  • Schmidt, Christoph M.

    ()
    (RWI)

Abstract

Using a data set of historical battles from 1600 to 1973, this paper analyzes the empirical determinants of tactical success in modern war. Based on a reduced form approach we consider key elements of military theory as factors in the production of combat success, formalized in a military production function. The paper focuses on the relationship of material and non-material factors to battlefield success, and especially on the role of superior force strengths. Contrary to the emphasis on technology which can be found in the recent literature, our estimation results indicate that numerical superiority has retained its crucial role for battlefield performance throughout history. In general, human elements of warfare, like leadership, morale and surprise, have continued to be important determinants of battle outcome despite technological progress in weapons.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 491.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: May 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Defence and Peace Economics, 2003, 14 (3), 175-192; see IZA Reprints 176/03
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp491

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Related research

Keywords: battlefield success; numerical superiority; leadership; technical progress; military production function; military technology;

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  1. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1981. "Qualitative Response Models: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 1483-1536, December.
  2. Veall, Michael R & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1996. " Pseudo-R-[superscript 2] Measures for Some Common Limited Dependent Variable Models," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 241-59, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Bester, Helmut & Konrad, Kai A, 2004. "Easy Targets and the Timing of Conflict," CEPR Discussion Papers 4245, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Sohn, Kitae, 2014. "The human capital of black soldiers during the American Civil War," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 40-43.
  3. J. Paul Dunne & María D.C. García-Alonso & Paul Levine & Ron P. Smith, 2006. "Managing asymmetric conflict," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 183-208, April.
  4. Hao Jia & Stergios Skaperdas & Samarth Vaidya, 2012. "Contest Functions: Theoretical Foundations and Issues in Estimation," Working Papers 111214, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  5. Smith, Adam C. & Houser, Daniel & Leeson, Peter T. & Ostad, Ramin, 2014. "The costs of conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 61-71.
  6. Christopher K. Butler & Scott Gates, 2010. "The Technology of Terror: Accounting for the Strategic Use of Terrorism," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 30, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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