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The U.S. Army as a Rational Economic Agent: The Choice of Draft Animals during the Civil War


  • Kyle D. Kauffman

    (Wellesley College)


The Army has historically been ridiculed as an inefficient institution which neither responds to incentives, nor acts as a rational economic agent. This paper argues that historically there were instances in which the army acted in ways analogous to "market driven" institutions. During the Civil War the Army tried to issue the more abuse-resistant, yet more expensive, mule to its soldiers instead of a less expensive substitute, the horse. It is argued that this practice was to mute the effects of agency problems, as was done in southern agriculture and in U.S. mining. This finding has implications for the Army today, as well as for other institutions with similar agency problems, that issue physical capital to their agents.

Suggested Citation

  • Kyle D. Kauffman, 1996. "The U.S. Army as a Rational Economic Agent: The Choice of Draft Animals during the Civil War," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 333-343, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:22:y:1996:i:3:p:333-343

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    1. Wendy Naysnerski & Tom Tietenberg, 1992. "Private Enforcement of Federal Environmental Law," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(1), pages 28-48.
    2. Douglas W. McNeil & Andrew W. Foshee & Clark R. Burbee, 1988. "Superfund Taxes and Expenditures: Regional Redistributions," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 18(1), pages 4-9, Winter.
    3. Schwert, G William, 1981. "Using Financial Data to Measure Effects of Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 121-158, April.
    4. Maloney, Michael T & McCormick, Robert E, 1982. "A Positive Theory of Environmental Quality Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 99-123, April.
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    More about this item


    Soldiers; War;

    JEL classification:

    • N41 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement


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