Reducing Risks in Wartime Through Capital-Labor Substitution: Evidence from World War Ii

84 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by Chris Rohlfs

Chris Rohlfs

Syracuse University

Ryan Sullivan

Naval Postgraduate School

Thomas J. Kniesner

Claremont Graduate University - Department of Economic Sciences; Syracuse University - Department of Economics; IZA

Abstract

Our research uses data from multiple archival sources to examine substitution among armored (tank-intensive), infantry (troop-intensive), and airborne (also troop-intensive) military units, as well as mid-war reorganizations of each type, to estimate the marginal cost of reducing U.S. fatalities in World War II, holding constant mission effectiveness, usage intensity, and task difficulty. If the government acted as though it equated marginal benefits and costs, the marginal cost figure measures the implicit value placed on soldiers' lives.Our preferred estimates indicate that infantrymen's lives were valued in 2009 dollars between $0 and $0.5 million and armored troops' lives were valued between $2 million and $6 million, relative to the efficient $1 million to $2 million 1940s-era private value of life. We find that the reorganizations of the armored and airborne divisions both increased efficiency, one by reducing costs with little increase in fatalities and the other by reducing fatalities with little increase in costs.

Keywords: cost of saving lives, World War II, military cost functions, military capital-labor substitution, European theater of operation

JEL Classification: H56, J17, N42, D24, J24, L11

Suggested Citation

Rohlfs, Chris and Sullivan, Ryan and Kniesner, Thomas J., Reducing Risks in Wartime Through Capital-Labor Substitution: Evidence from World War Ii. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9260, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655300

Chris Rohlfs (Contact Author)

Syracuse University ( email )

Center for Policy Resarch
426 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www-cpr.maxwell.syr.edu/

Ryan Sullivan

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

1 University Circle
Monterey, CA 93943-5001
United States

Thomas J. Kniesner

Claremont Graduate University - Department of Economic Sciences ( email )

Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Syracuse University - Department of Economics ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244-1020
United States

IZA

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
14
Abstract Views
370
PlumX Metrics