Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Murat Iyigun

Second Advisor

Lee Alston

Third Advisor

Ann Carlos

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey Zax

Fifth Advisor

Myron Gutmann


In this dissertation I present the first county-level estimates of deaths in the Confederate Army for eight of the former Confederate States (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia). As described in Chapter 2, I estimate the number of deaths by Confederate company (a unit of roughly 100 men) and map these back to the company’s county of origin. Counties’ death rates were driven by the battles in which their men fought, determined by generals for strategic reasons. This produces a wide distribution in county-level death rates, and it allows for causal inference in assessing the impacts of these losses on counties’ later development.

In Chapter 3, I estimate the long-run effects of population loss on the economic geography of the South. Populations in counties with higher death rates caught up to neighboring areas within 15 years after the war, but then they kept growing. These increases were caused by migration, especially by African Americans: counties with ten percentage-point higher death rates had 14% larger black populations in 1900 and 27% larger in 1960. Migrants also increasingly went to counties that were less advantaged in Southern economy before the Civil War. The economic geography of the American South was thus changed significantly after the institutional shock from the Civil War.

In Chapter 4, I estimate the effects of relative labor scarcity on racial violence and political participation in the American South from 1865 to 1900. I find counties with 10 percentage-point higher death rates in the Civil War had 24-33% fewer lynchings of African Americans from 1866 to 1900. They also had 3.6-5.6% higher voter turnout despite a larger fraction of their population being black. These effects persisted for at least two decades after the counties’ relative labor scarcity disappeared. However, in the very long run (100 years), counties with greater Civil War deaths saw a reversal, with much worse discrimination by the Civil Rights Era, likely due to their larger black populations and absence of economic incentives to prevent discrimination. This suggests relative levels of discrimination were not culturally determined and can change fairly quickly.