American Civil War Veterans & Social Networks

Research Paper Title

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

Background

The researchers demonstrate the long reach of early social ties in the location decision of individuals and in their older age mortality risk using data on Union Army veterans of the US Civil War (1861-5).

Methods

The researchers estimate discrete choice migration models to quantify the trade-offs across locations faced by veterans.

Results

Veterans were more likely to move to a neighbourhood or county where men from their same war company lived and were more likely to move to such areas than to areas where other veterans were located.

Veterans also 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.

Conclusion

This co-location evidence highlights the existence of persistent social networks. Such social networks had long-term consequences: veterans living close to war-time comrades had a 6% lower probability of dying.

Reference

Costa, D.L., Kahn, M.E., Roudiez, C. & Wilson, S. (2018) Persistent Social Networks: Civil War Veterans Who Fought Together Co-Locate in Later Life. Regional Science and Urban Economics. 70, pp.289-299. doi: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2017.09.005. Epub 2018 Oct 11.

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