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Why is the Military Draft Common? Conscription and Increasing Returns

Author

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  • Yew-Kwang Ng

    (Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University and Department of Economics, Monash University)

Abstract

It is well-known that if the required number of military personnel is large, paying the soldiers their hire may involve very high taxes. While conscription involves the inefficiency and unfairness of violating free choice, it may save significant distortionary costs of taxation. It is not well-known that, even in the absence of these distortionary costs, conscription may reduce the inequity of having very low marginal utilities for soldiers if they are paid enough to attract their voluntary services and very high marginal utilities for civilians if they have to pay very high taxes. Having all citizens serving an equal fraction of time may be inefficient as there are high degrees of increasing returns in military services due to both training costs and learning by doing. Conscription may then increase the expected utilities of all individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Yew-Kwang Ng, 2008. "Why is the Military Draft Common? Conscription and Increasing Returns," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 9(2), pages 373-384, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:journl:y:2008:v:9:i:2:p:373-384
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 109-131, April.
    2. John T. Warner & Beth J. Asch, 2001. "The Record and Prospects of the All-Volunteer Military in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 169-192, Spring.
    3. John Warner & Sebastian Negrusa, 2005. "Evasion costs and the theory Of conscription," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 83-100.
    4. Casey B. Mulligan, 2005. "Conscription as Regulation," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 85-111.
    5. Asch, Beth J & Warner, John T, 2001. "A Theory of Compensation and Personnel Policy in Hierarchical Organizations with Application to the United States Military," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 523-562, July.
    6. Christopher Jehn & Zachary Selden, 2002. "The End Of Conscription In Europe?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(2), pages 93-100, April.
    7. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
    8. Poutvaara, Panu & Wagener, Andreas, 2007. "To draft or not to draft? Inefficiency, generational incidence, and political economy of military conscription," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 975-987, December.
    9. Panu Poutvaara & Andreas Wagener, 2007. "Conscription: Economic costs and political allure," Economics of Peace and Security Journal, EPS Publishing, vol. 2(1), pages 6-15, January.
    10. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Danko Tarabar & Joshua C. Hall, 2015. "Explaining the Worldwide Decline in Military Conscription: 1970-2010," Working Papers 15-30, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    2. Danko Tarabar & Joshua C. Hall, 2016. "Explaining the worldwide decline in the length of mandatory military service, 1970–2010," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 168(1), pages 55-74, July.
    3. Jonathan Lipow & Jay Simon, 2014. "Probability segmenting and the social cost of draft evasion," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(1), pages 307-312.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conscription; Draft; Increasing returns; Efficiency; Equity; Fairness;

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H80 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - General
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War

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