NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Dora Costa

NBER Working Paper No. 17382
Issued in September 2011
NBER Program(s):   DAE

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17382

Published: “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.

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