Guo Xu, Professor

Closed (1) The master and commander – promotion and fighting performance in the Royal Navy

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

This project investigates how promotion rules within the Royal Navy 1690-1849 affected the fighting performance of promoted commanders. The Royal Navy fought its way into the history books as the most successful navy on earth. At its peak, it employed over 120,000 men, operating over 600 ships on stations all over the globe. To what extent did promotion and progression rules among commanders and captains help to explain this?

I am looking for research assistants who are interested in working at the intersection of economics and history. You will be involved in three tasks: (i) conducting archival research to unlock historical data sources that allow us to observe the evolution of the state at a fine-level level of granularity (ii) process existing scanned volumes of Royal Navy personnel data to measure differences in personnel policies and assignment of captains to battle ships (iii) constructing new datasets on the biography of captains and Admirals and conducting basic empirical analyses.

The intersection between applied economics and history is an exciting field as the availability of new technologies have allowed us to unlock historical archival data at a faster rate. This project will allow you to gain hands-on experience in how historical data can be transformed into structured data for modern econometric analysis.

This is great opportunity for students who are interested in development economics, political economy and economic history.


Qualifications: Basic familiarity with statistical packages and data manipulation is desirable. Interest in economic history is desirable.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Related website: http://www.guoxu.org