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The Record and Prospects of the All-Volunteer Military in the United States

  • John T. Warner
  • Beth J. Asch

From the onset of World War II until July 1973, the draft was a fact of life for male youth in the United States. Since then, America's armed forces have been staffed by volunteers. Recent recruiting difficulties have precipitated calls from some quarters for a return to conscription. This paper reviews the economic issues involved in the choice over conscription versus volunteerism and it reviews the volunteer force record in the U. S. Despite recent recruiting difficulties, the case for the volunteer force is more compelling today than it was in 1973.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 15 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 169-192

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:15:y:2001:i:2:p:169-192
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.15.2.169
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist, 1990. "The Draft Lottery and Voluntary Enlistment in the Vietnam Era," NBER Working Papers 3514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fisher, Anthony C, 1969. "The Cost of the Draft and the Cost of Ending the Draft," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(3), pages 239-54, June.
  3. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
  4. Ross, Thomas W, 1994. "Raising an Army: A Positive Theory of Military Recruitment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 109-31, April.
  5. Warner, John T., 1995. "The economics of military manpower," Handbook of Defense Economics, in: Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler (ed.), Handbook of Defense Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 347-398 Elsevier.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist, 1995. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," NBER Working Papers 5192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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