Unfit for Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity for U.S. Military Recruitment
AbstractThis paper contributes to the literature on the labor market consequences of unhealthy behaviors and poor health by examining a previously underappreciated consequence of the rise in obesity in the United States: challenges for military recruitment. Specifically, this paper estimates the percent of the U.S. military-age population that meets, and does not meet, current active duty enlistment standards for weight-for-height and percent body fat for the U.S. Army, using data from the series of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys that spans 1959-2008. We calculate that the percentage of military-age adults ineligible for enlistment because they are overweight and overfat doubled for men and tripled for women during that time. We document disparities across race, education, and age in meeting the standards, and finds that a further rise of just 1% in weight and body fat would further reduce eligibility for military service by over 600,000 men and 1 million women of military age. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for military recruitment and military policy.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5822.
Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Health Economics, 2012, 21 (11), 1348-1366
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Other versions of this item:
- John Cawley & Johanna Catherine Maclean, 2012. "Unfit For Service: The Implications Of Rising Obesity For Us Military Recruitment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(11), pages 1348-1366, November.
- John Cawley & Johanna Catherine Maclean, 2010. "Unfit for Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity for U.S. Military Recruitment," NBER Working Papers 16408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
- H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
- J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
- J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
- N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGR-2011-07-13 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2011-07-13 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAB-2011-07-13 (Labour Economics)
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- Caliendo, Marco & Gehrsitz, Markus, 2014. "Obesity and the Labor Market: A Fresh Look at the Weight Penalty," IZA Discussion Papers 7947, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Guardado, José R. & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2013. "A Model of Worker Investment in Safety and Its Effects on Accidents and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 7428, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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