Hierarchies and the Survival of POWs during WWII
Management Science, Forthcoming
32 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2009 Last revised: 29 Aug 2012
Date Written: January 9, 2012
Using a comprehensive database of American prisoners of war (POWs) during World War II, we find that survival from captivity generally declines as the hierarchy of a prisoner’s group becomes steeper or more closely matches the military’s established hierarchy. There is no evidence that survival is enhanced by being held in more hierarchical groups. One interpretation of these findings which is consistent with survivors’ accounts is that the military’s hierarchy was too inflexible to adapt from the battlefield to captivity and this inflexibility impeded trading among the prisoners.
Keywords: Hierarchy, centralization, decentralization, markets
JEL Classification: D23, L22, G30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation