Mar 28, 2012

Great presidents

Historians and journalists commonly survey other historians on the relative greatness of American presidents, and these rankings show remarkable consis- tency between surveys. In this paper we consider commonalities between highly ranked presidents and compare plausible determinants of greatness according to historians. We find that a strong predictor of greatness is the fraction of American lives lost in war during a presidents tenure. We find this predictor to be robust and compare favorably to other predictors used in previous historical research. We discuss potential reasons for this correlation and conclude with a discussion of how historians views might affect policy.
That is from the new paper "War and Presidential Greatness" by Henderson and Gochenour (March 2012). The authors include the GDP growth rate as one of the independent variables. A graph from the papers:

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