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Drawn Into Violence: Evidence On “What Makes A Criminal” From The Vietnam Draft Lotteries

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  • JASON M. LINDO
  • CHARLES STOECKER

Abstract

Draft lottery number assignment during the Vietnam era provides a natural experiment to examine the effects of military service on crime. Using exact dates of birth for inmates in state and federal prisons in 1979, 1986, and 1991, we find robust evidence of effects on violent crimes among whites. In particular, we find that draft eligibility increases incarceration rates for violent crimes by 14 to 19 percent. Based on Angrist and Chen's (2008) estimate of the effect of draft eligibility on veteran status, these estimates imply that military service increases the probability of incarceration for a violent crime by 0.27 percentage points. Results for nonwhites are not robust. We conduct two falsification tests, one that applies each of the three binding lotteries to unaffected cohorts and another that considers the effects of lotteries that were not used to draft servicemen.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 52 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 239-258

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:52:y:2014:i:1:p:239-258

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  1. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  2. David Card & Gordon Dahl, 2009. "Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior," NBER Working Papers 15497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Turner, Sarah & Bound, John, 2003. "Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Effects of the G.I. Bill and World War II on the Educational Outcomes of Black Americans," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(01), pages 145-177, March.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Stacey H. Chen & Brigham R. Frandsen, 2009. "Did Vietnam Veterans Get Sicker in the 1990s? The Complicated Effects of Military Service on Self-Reported Health," NBER Working Papers 14781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Dalton Conley & Jennifer A. Heerwig, 2009. "The Long-Term Effects of Military Conscription on Mortality: Estimates from the Vietnam-era Draft Lottery," NBER Working Papers 15105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Peter Siminski & Simon Ville, 2012. "I Was Only Nineteen, 45 Years Ago: What Can we Learn from Australia’s Conscription Lotteries?," Economics Working Papers wp12-06, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
  17. Christopher Carpenter, 2007. "Heavy Alcohol Use and Crime: Evidence from Underage Drunk-Driving Laws," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 539-557.
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Cited by:
  1. Brighita Negrusa & Sebastian Negrusa, 2014. "Home Front: Post-Deployment Mental Health and Divorces," Demography, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 895-916, June.
  2. Siminski, Peter & Ville, Simon & Paull, Alexander, 2013. "Does the Military Train Men to Be Violent Criminals? New Evidence from Australia's Conscription Lotteries," IZA Discussion Papers 7152, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Peter Siminski & Simon Ville, 2012. "I Was Only Nineteen, 45 Years Ago: What Can we Learn from Australia’s Conscription Lotteries?," Economics Working Papers wp12-06, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
  4. Baldwin, Kate & Bhavnani, Rikhil R., 2013. "Ancillary experiments: Opportunities and challenges," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  5. Naci Mocan & Christian Raschke & Bulent Unel, 2013. "The Impact of Mothers’ Earnings on Health Inputs and Infant Health," NBER Working Papers 19434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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