orgtheory.net

presidents who kill people are popular

David Henderson and Zachary Gouchenour have a paper on the topic of presidential ratings. The finding is simple. War casualties, as a fraction of the population, positively correlate with how historians rate presidents. More death = better presidents. The regression model includes some controls, like economic growth. Here’s the chart:

This is consistent with sociological research on state building, which has traditionally linked wars, bureaucratic growth, and tax collection. See, for example, Charles Tilly’s classic work “Warmaking and Statemaking as Organized Crime.” My one criticism of the paper is that there is no measure in the regression that controls for “big legislation” (i.e., New Deal). Historians like law passing and it might account for some variation. I have a hunch that is how variation on the right hand side of the figure would be explained.

Henderson and Gouchenour then spin out the policy implication. Greatness rankings by historians may prompt presidents to start more wars. The historians may have more blood on their hands than we care to admit.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 28, 2012 at 12:02 am

10 Responses

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  1. Thanks, Fabio.

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    David R. Henderson

    March 28, 2012 at 4:26 am

  2. This gives a whole new dimension to performativity…

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    Fred Thompson

    March 31, 2012 at 7:50 pm

  3. [...] presidents who kill people are popular David Henderson and Zachary Gouchenour have a paper on the topic of presidential ratings. The finding is simple. War casualties, as a fraction of the population, positively correlate with how historians rate presidents. More death = better presidents. [...]

    Like

  4. surprised to see that so few died under nixon if this scale is correct.

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    h

    April 14, 2012 at 2:55 am

  5. Does Washington’s deaths per capita ranking include the Revolution?

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    Brian Lane (@ocapmycap)

    April 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

  6. [...] (Hat tip.) Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark [...]

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  7. [...] presidents who kill people are popular « orgtheory.net Like this: Be the first to like this post. Adverts: From Black Power / Grad Skool Rulz 4 Responses [...]

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    Politics | Pearltrees

    April 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm

  8. Correlation does not imply causation.

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    jimkress

    April 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm

  9. There are several problems with thier ranking
    1) The give the revolution to Washington. This considers him completely differently than all other war hero presidents. Washington was president after the revolution, not during.
    2) It doesn’t consider the barbary pirate wars or the quasi war with france, but it does consider the attack on the marine barracks against Reagan
    3) Even though the article says it does consider Indian wars, they are not included in the data.

    Like

    sdu754

    November 25, 2012 at 6:02 am


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