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New Economics of Manpower in the Post-Cold War Era


  • Asch, Beth J.
  • Hosek, James R.
  • Warner, John T.


Since the publication of Volume 1 of the Handbook of Defense Economics, key events have shaped the defense manpower research agenda and called for research to help policymakers deal with the challenges that these factors presented. One event was the end of the Cold War, which permitted drastic force reductions in the USA and elsewhere and enabled many NATO members to eliminate conscription. A second event was a rise in college attendance in the USA, which led to recruiting difficulties despite the reduction in accession demand. A third event was increased operational tempo of US forces abroad. Fourth is the rising cost of US military entitlements and a shift toward a greater share of military compensation being deferred. This chapter reviews the recent work that economists have supplied in response to these events. Studies have analyzed the dramatic trend toward volunteer forces in Europe, seeking to explain why some countries chose to end conscription while others did not. Studies of US enlistment supply have estimated the effect of rising college attendance on enlistment and evaluated strategies for mitigating its effect. Studies of operational tempo have provided new theoretical insights about the relationship between operational tempo and retention and empirical evidence about this linkage. Improvements have been made to models relating compensation to retention, and the models been used to address issues relating to the structure of compensation. This chapter reviews these studies and other new contributions to the defense manpower literature. Reserve force issues remain a neglected research area. Despite the heavy reliance on reserve forces in recent US operations abroad, little is known about how changes in activation expectations and activation duration affect reserve recruiting and retention. Such analysis is needed to guide reserve compensation and personnel policy, and this topic represents an important area for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Asch, Beth J. & Hosek, James R. & Warner, John T., 2007. "New Economics of Manpower in the Post-Cold War Era," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hdechp:2-32

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    Cited by:

    1. Tim Kane, 2015. "The Leader/Talent Matrix: An Empirical Perspective on Organizational Culture," Economics Working Papers 15106, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    2. Katarina Keller & Panu Poutvaara & Andreas Wagener, 2009. "Does Military Draft Discourage Enrollment in Higher Education? Evidence from OECD Countries," CESifo Working Paper Series 2838, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Pema, Elda & Mehay, Stephen, 2012. "Career effects of occupation-related vocational education: Evidence from the military's internal labor market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 680-693.
    4. Lipow, Jonathan & Simon, Jay, 2011. "Military reserves and social welfare," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(3), pages 208-210.
    5. Beth Asch & Paul Heaton, 2008. "Monopsony and Labor Supply in the Army and Navy," Working Papers 1107, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Katarina Keller & Panu Poutvaara & Andreas Wagener, 2010. "Does a Military Draft Discourage Enrollment in Higher Education?," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 66(2), pages 97-120, June.
    7. Brauer, Jurgen & Caruso, Raul, 2011. "Peace economists and peace economics," MPRA Paper 34927, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Howard Bodenhorn & Timothy W. Guinnane & Thomas A. Mroz, 2013. "Problems of Sample-selection Bias in the Historical Heights Literature: A Theoretical and Econometric Analysis," Working Papers 1023, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.

    More about this item


    Defense in a Globalized World;

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War


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