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Military Enlistments: What Can We Learn from Geographic Variation?


  • Brown, Charles


This paper analyzes the determinants of the supply of enlistees to the U.S. Army, using quarterly data from 1975:4 through 1982:3 for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For high-quality enlistees, defined as those with test scores in the top half of the population or top scoring individuals who are also high school graduates, supply elasticities with respect to military compensation are estimated to be about 1.0. Elasticities with respect to the unemployment rate center on 0.5, larger than most previous estimates. Recruiting resources have the expected effects (Army recruiters increase and other services recruiters reduce Army enlistments). Advertising (both national and local) does not have consistently positive effects. Results are similar for high school graduates,except that the effect of military compensation depends crucially on how it is measured. Estimates of the supply of enlistees of all qualities are weaker still: estimates of compensation effects vary widely, and estimated effects of recruiters and advertising are less plausible. Unemployment elasticities of about 0.3 are smaller than for high-quality recruits, but hardlyn egligible.A tentative explanation for the weaker results of the latter two groupsis that the number of such enlistees is not supply determined, but reflect demand constraints as well. Further work is needed to determine how standards for enlistees vary in each recruiting district in response to both national and local fluctuations in recruit supply.
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Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Charles, 1985. "Military Enlistments: What Can We Learn from Geographic Variation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 228-234, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:75:y:1985:i:1:p:228-34

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    Cited by:

    1. Rohlfs Chris, 2012. "The Economic Cost of Conscription and an Upper Bound on the Value of a Statistical Life: Hedonic Estimates from Two Margins of Response to the Vietnam Draft," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 3(3), pages 1-37, August.
    2. Boyle Glenn, 2008. "Pay Peanuts and Get Monkeys? Evidence from Academia," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-26, July.
    3. Georgios P. Kouretas & Mark E. Wohar, 2012. "The dynamics of inflation: a study of a large number of countries," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(16), pages 2001-2026, June.
    4. Bäckström, Peter, 2020. "Essays on Military Labour Supply in the Era of Voluntary Recruitment," Umeå Economic Studies 965, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    5. Julide Yildirim & Nebile Korucu & Semsettin Karasu, 2010. "Further Education Or Re-Enlistment Decision In Turkish Armed Forces: A Seemingly Unrelated Probit Analysis," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 89-103.
    6. David T. Ellwood & David A. Wise, 1987. "Uncle Sam Wants You-Sometimes: Military Enlistments and the Youth Labor Market," NBER Chapters, in: Public Sector Payrolls, pages 97-118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Chaturvedi, Alok & Mehta, Shailendra & Dolk, Daniel & Ayer, Rick, 2005. "Agent-based simulation for computational experimentation: Developing an artificial labor market," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 166(3), pages 694-716, November.
    8. John T. Warner, 1990. "MILITARY RECRUITING PROGRAMS DURING THE 1980s: THEIR SUCCESS AND POLICY ISSUES," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 8(4), pages 47-67, October.
    9. Barr, Andrew, 2016. "Enlist or enroll: Credit constraints, college aid, and the military enlistment margin," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 61-78.
    10. Cesur, Resul & Sabia, Joseph J. & Tekin, Erdal, 2013. "The psychological costs of war: Military combat and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 51-65.

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