“Farewell life, farewell love”: Analysis of survival inequalities among soldiers who “died for France” during World War I

By Olivier Guillot, Antoine Parent, Beatrice van Hoorn Alkema

This study looks at the differences in survival times among French soldiers who died in World War I, with a focus on identifying any contextual effects associated with the place of recruitment and assigned regiment. The analysis was performed using a sample of more than 17,000 men recognized as “Morts pour la France” in 1914–1918. The survival time of these soldiers is defined here as the number of days between 2 August 1914, the date on which general mobilization began, and the occurrence of death. We have tried to shed light on both the determinants of this survival time and the explanatory factors of early death, i.e. a death occurring in the year 1914. The results show that the average survival time and the probability of dying in 1914 varied significantly according to place of recruitment and, at least as regards infantry soldiers, between regiments. These disparities suggest the possible influence of the military staff’s strategic choices and perhaps the negative impact of factors more political in nature. The estimated effects are, however, on a smaller scale than those associated with rank and corps.


  • First World War
  • soldiers of 1914
  • Morts pour la France
  • survival time
  • cliometrics
  • multilevel analysis
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