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Learning by Dying: Combat Performance in the Age of Sail

Daniel Benjamin and Anca Tifrea

The Journal of Economic History, 2007, vol. 67, issue 4, 968-1000

Abstract: Between 1660 and 1815 the combat fatality rate among British navy captains fell by 98 percent, even as the combat success of the British Navy rose dramatically. Both developments can be explained as a result of learning by doing among British commanders. This learning was importantly driven by the extensive wartime experience accumulated over this period, combined with the unparalleled financial incentives for combat success offered to British commanders.

Date: 2007
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