Persistent Social Networks: Civil War Veterans who Fought Together Co-Locate in Later Life

Dora L. Costa, Matthew E. Kahn, Christopher Roudiez, Sven Wilson

NBER Working Paper No. 22397
Issued in July 2016
NBER Program(s):Aging, Development of the American Economy, Health Economics

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 enjoyed a longer life.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22397

Published: Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn & Christopher Roudiez & Sven Wilson, 2017. "Persistent Social Networks: Civil War Veterans Who Fought Together Co-Locate in Later Life," Regional Science and Urban Economics, . citation courtesy of

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