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DRAFTING THE GREAT ARMY: Optimal conscription in Napoleonic France

Show simple item record Piano, Ennio E. Rouanet, Louis 2020-02-21T15:18:07Z 2020-02-21T15:18:07Z 2020-02
dc.description.abstract 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. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher SSRN Working Paper
dc.subject Desertion en_US
dc.subject Conscription en_US
dc.subject Great Army en_US
dc.subject Napoleonic Empire en_US
dc.title DRAFTING THE GREAT ARMY: Optimal conscription in Napoleonic France en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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