Christian Dippel, Stephan Heblich, 19 February 2019

The importance of leadership in effecting social change is well recorded in history, but the specific role leaders play in coordinating behaviours is less understood. This column uses the case of the Forty-Eighters – revolutionaries expelled from German lands who moved to the US before the American Civil War – to analyse the impact individuals with ‘inherent’ leadership ability have in their networks. The Forty-Eighters went on to play a substantial role in increasing Union Army enlistments in their new home towns, suggesting individuals can have a powerful effect in shaping social norms.

Brandon Dupont, Joshua Rosenbloom, 19 June 2016

The long-run persistence of social and economic status has received substantial attention from economists of late. But the impact of economic and political shocks on this persistence has yet to be thoroughly explored. This column examines the disruptions from the US Civil War on the Southern wealth distribution. Results suggest that an entrenched southern planter elite retained their economic status after the war. However, the turmoil of the decade opened mobility opportunities for Southerners of more modest means, especially compared with the North.

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