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Does Combat Exposure Make You a More Violent or Criminal Person? Evidence from the Vietnam Draft

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  • Chris Rohlfs

Abstract

This study exploits the differential effects of the Vietnam War across birth cohorts to measure the effects of combat exposure on later violence and crime. Combat exposure and violent acts are measured using self-reports from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. I find large positive effects on violence for blacks, suggestive evidence of positive effects on violence for whites and on arrests for certain offense types, and negative "incapacitation" effects on arrests during the men’s years abroad. The estimates, while imprecise, suggest that the social cost of the violence and crimes caused by Vietnam-era combat exposure was roughly $65 billion.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Rohlfs, 2010. "Does Combat Exposure Make You a More Violent or Criminal Person? Evidence from the Vietnam Draft," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(2).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:45:y:2010:i2:p271-300
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "Estimating the Payoff to Schooling Using the Vietnam-era Draft Lottery," Working Papers 670, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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    7. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
    8. John Mullahy, 1997. "Instrumental-Variable Estimation Of Count Data Models: Applications To Models Of Cigarette Smoking Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 586-593, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew, 2016. "The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime and the Labor Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 11110, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Alfredo Paloyo & Colin Vance & Matthias Vorell, 2014. "Local determinants of crime," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(21), pages 625-658.
    3. Peter Siminski & Simon Ville & Alexander Paull, 2016. "Does the military turn men into criminals? New evidence from Australia’s conscription lotteries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 197-218, January.
    4. Sebastian Galiani & Martín A. Rossi & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2011. "Conscription and Crime: Evidence from the Argentine Draft Lottery," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 119-136, April.
    5. Johannes P. Rieckmann, 2014. "Krieg und häusliche Gewalt," DIW Roundup: Politik im Fokus 41, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Bruno Frey, 2012. "Well-being and war," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 59(4), pages 363-375, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Brighita Negrusa & Sebastian Negrusa, 2014. "Home Front: Post-Deployment Mental Health and Divorces," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(3), pages 895-916, June.
    9. 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).

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