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Patronage Politics and the Development of the Welfare State: Confederate Pensions in the American South

Shari Eli, Laura Salisbury

NBER Working Paper No. 20829
Issued in January 2015
NBER Program(s):The Program on the Development of the American Economy

Beginning in the 1880s, southern states introduced pensions for Confederate veterans and widows. They continued to expand these programs through the 1920s, while states outside the region were introducing cash transfer programs for workers, poor mothers, and the elderly. Using legislative documents, application records for Confederate pensions, and county-level census and electoral data, we argue that political considerations guided the enactment and distribution of these pensions. We show that Confederate pensions programs were introduced and funded during years in which Democratic gubernatorial candidates were threatened at the ballot box. Moreover, we offer evidence that pensions were disbursed to counties in which these candidates had lost ground to candidates from alternative parties.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20829

Published: Eli, Shari & Salisbury, Laura, 2016. "Patronage Politics and the Development of the Welfare State: Confederate Pensions in the American South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(04), pages 1078-1112, December. citation courtesy of

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