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Technology and the Era of the Mass Army

Onorato, Massimiliano Gaetano and Scheve, Kenneth and Stasavage, David Technology and the Era of the Mass Army. Working Paper (Unpublished)

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Abstract

We provide the first systematic examination of the determinants of military mobilization over the very long run. Focusing on a sample of thirteen great powers between 1600 and 2000 we argue that changes in transport and communications technology were the single most important factor in both ushering in the era of the mass army and in leading to its eventual demise. During the nineteenth century the development of the railroad made it possible for the first time to mobilize and feed armies numbering in the millions. During the late twentieth century further advances in transport and communications technology made it possible to deliver explosive force from a distance. This development has made mass armies less relevant. We find strong support for our technological interpretation using a new data set that measures army size and population mobilization from the beginning of the seventeenth century. In so doing we also consider several other plausible determinants of military mobilization. Contrary to what is so often suggested by political scientists, we find little evidence that the French Revolution and the invention of the concept of "the nation in arms" was associated with a substantial increase in levels of mobilization across nations. Even for the French case alone, the magnitude of what is sometimes referred to as the "Napoleonic watershed" was smaller than what is often believed.

Item Type: Working Paper (Working Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Research Area: Economics and Institutional Change
Depositing User: Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2012 08:08
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2012 13:00
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/1089

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