, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 45-66

First online:

Health, wartime stress, and unit cohesion: Evidence from Union Army veterans

  • Dora L. CostaAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, UCLA Email author 
  • , Matthew E. KahnAffiliated withNBER

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We find that Union Army veterans of the American Civil War who faced greater wartime stress (as measured by higher battlefield mortality rates) experienced higher mortality rates at older ages, but that men who were from more cohesive companies were statistically significantly less likely to be affected by wartime stress. Our results hold for overall mortality, mortality from ischemic heart disease and stroke, and new diagnoses of arteriosclerosis. Our findings represent one of the first long-run health follow-ups of the interaction between stress and social networks in a human population in which both stress and social networks are arguably exogenous.