Monday, January 28, 2019

The Shocks of War

 Three economists -- Dora Costa, Noelle Yetter, and Heather DeSomer -- have investigated "when and how health shocks reverberate across the life cycle and down to descendants." They examined "the impact of war wounds on the socioeconomic status and older age mortality of US Civil War (1861-5) veterans and of their adult children." Among other things they found that "fathers' severe wartime wounds affected daughters', but not sons', socioeconomic status."

Even though every family is different, knowing the general trends can help us understand those trying to find their way through the postwar "Gilded Age." And, in another frame, it can remind us that no decision to go to war should ever be taken lightly.

"The Impact of a Wartime Health Shock on the Postwar Socioeconomic Status and Mortality of Union Army Veterans and their Children," National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 25480, Jan. 2019 (

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