The mission of the Political Economy Research Institute is to engage undergraduate and graduate students with faculty in research that will further the understanding of business and economic principles and their impact on regional, national, and international financial conditions and the well-being of society. Our working and policy paper series collect and promote the research being done by scholars and students affiliated with the Political Economy Research Institute
Browsing Political Economy Research Institute by Subject "Napoleonic Empire"
(SSRN Working Paper, 2020-02)
Piano, Ennio E.; Rouanet, Louis
The ability to mobilize large armies for the purposes of national defense and territorial expansion is a key feature of the modern state. Post-revolutionary France was among the first European powers to adopt large-scale conscription to man its army. For its conscription efforts to be effective, the French government had to overcome the obstacle posed by desertion. This article develops a framework to study the optimal response to the threat of desertion in designing conscription policies. We argue that geography was a major determinant of the administrative costs of enforcing conscription. Using a novel data-set on conscription and desertion from Napoleonic France, we show that regions with higher terrain ruggedness were more prone to desertion. We also show that, in response to the variation in enforcement costs across regions, the national government adjusted its conscription policies accordingly: More Frenchmen were drafted in regions where the administrative costs of conscription were lower.