NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Sven Wilson

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Working Papers

August 2016Union Army Veterans, All Grown Up
with Dora L. Costa, Heather DeSomer, Eric Hanss, Christopher Roudiez, Noelle Yetter: w22497
This paper overviews the research opportunities made possible by a NIA-funded program project, Early Indicators, Intergenerational Processes, and Aging. Data collection began almost three decades ago on 40,000 soldiers from the Union Army in the US Civil War. The sample contains extensive demographic, economic, and medical data from childhood to death. In recent years, a large sample of African-American soldiers and an oversampling of soldiers from major US cities have been added. Hundreds of historical maps containing public health data have been geocoded to place soldiers and their family members in a geospatial context. With newly granted funding, thousands of veterans will be linked to the demographic information available from the census and vital records of their children.
July 2016Persistent Social Networks: Civil War Veterans who Fought Together Co-Locate in Later Life
with Dora L. Costa, Matthew E. Kahn, Christopher Roudiez: w22397
At the end of the U.S Civil War, veterans had to choose whether to return to their prewar communities or move to new areas. The late 19th Century was a time of sharp urban growth as workers sought out the economic opportunities offered by cities. By estimating discrete choice migration models, we quantify the tradeoffs that veterans faced. Veterans were less likely to move far from their origin and avoided urban immigrant areas and high mortality risk areas. They also avoided areas that opposed the Civil War. Veterans were more likely to move to a neighborhood or a county where men from their same war company lived. This co-location evidence highlights the existence of persistent social networks. Such social networks had long-term consequences: veterans living close to war time friends enj...
January 2005Work and the Disability Transition in 20th Century America
with Joseph Burton, Benjamin Howell: w11036
Using data from Union Army pensioners and from the National Health Interview Surveys, we estimate that work-disability among white males aged 45-64 was 3.5 times as high in the late 19th century than at the end of the 20th century, including a decline and flattening of the age-profile since 1970. We present a descriptive model of disability that can account for a) the secular decline in prevalence; b) changes in slope of the age-profile; and c) periods of increasing prevalence. The high level and relatively flat slope of the historical disability age-profile is consistent with the early onset of chronic conditions and with high mortality associated with a subset of those conditions. We show that many common conditions in the 19th century have been either eliminated, delayed to later ages, ...

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