The Nexus of Elites and War Mobilization: An Empirical Investigation
Ying Bai (CUHK), Ruixue Jia (LSE and UCSD), Jiaojiao Yang (CUHK)
This paper documents that elites made war and war made elites, using the setting of the organization of the Hunan Army – an army organized by one Hunanese scholar-general from existing local militia to suppress the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864). We construct comprehensive datasets to depict the elites in the scholar-general’s pre-war network and the distribution of national-level offices before and after the war. By studying how pre-war elite connections affected where soldiers who died actually came from, and subsequent shifts in the post-war distribution of political power towards the home counties of these very elites, we highlight a two-way nexus of elites and war mobilization: (i) elites used their personal network for mobilization, and (ii) network-induced mobilization elevated regional elites to the national political stage, who shaped the fortunes of the country after the war.