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Leaders: Privilege, Sacrifice, Opportunity and Personnel Economics in the American Civil War

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  • Dora Costa

Abstract

The US Civil War provides researchers a unique opportunity to identify wartime leaders and thus to test theories of leadership. By observing both leaders and followers during the war and forty years after it, I establish that the most able became wartime leaders, that leading by example from the front was an effective strategy in reducing desertion rates, and that leaders later migrated to the larger cities because this is where their superior skills would have had the highest pay-offs. I find that US cities were magnets for the most able and provided training opportunities for both leaders and followers: men might start in a low social status occupation in a city but then move to a higher status occupation.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17382.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Publication status: published as “Leaders: Privilege, Sacrifice, Opportunity and Personnel Economics in the American Civil War.” First published on-line, June 14, 2013. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17382

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  1. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2007. "Deserters, Social Norms, and Migration," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 323-353.
  2. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Cowards And Heroes: Group Loyalty In The American Civil War," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 519-548, May.
  3. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  4. Lee, Chulhee, 2007. "Military positions and post-service occupational mobility of Union Army veterans, 1861-1880," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 680-698, October.
  5. E. D. Gould, 2007. "Cities, Workers, and Wages: A Structural Analysis of the Urban Wage Premium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 477-506.
  6. Sherwin Rosen, 1982. "Authority, Control, and the Distribution of Earnings," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 311-323, Autumn.
  7. daniel Scott. Smith, 2003. "Seasoning, Disease Environment, and Conditions of Exposure. New York Union Army Regiments and Soldiers," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Labor Force Participation over the Life Cycle: Evidence from the Past, pages 89-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  9. Edward P. Lazear, 2010. "Leadership: A Personnel Economics Approach," NBER Working Papers 15918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sukkoo Kim, 2006. "Division of labor and the rise of cities: evidence from US industrialization, 1850--1880," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(4), pages 469-491, August.
  11. Sukkoo Kim, 2006. "Division of Labor and the Rise of Cities: Evidence from U.S. Industrialization, 1850-1880," NBER Working Papers 12246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mana Komai & Mark Stegeman & Benjamin E. Hermalin, 2007. "Leadership and Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 944-947, June.
  13. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-86, December.
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