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Uncle Sam Wants Whom? The Draft and the Quality of Military Personnel


  • Timothy Perri


It has been argued the draft may enable the military to attract more able individuals than a volunteer military and thus increase welfare. We find this may be the case if a volunteer military simply takes the least able individuals. Ignoring the deadweight loss from taxation, when the military tests individuals, does not take the lowest quality applicants, and the test is costless and accurate, neither a random draft nor a draft with testing increases welfare, and both usually decrease welfare. Only if testing is relatively costly or imprecise would a random draft dominate a volunteer military with testing. With either a low quality volunteer military or imprecise testing, a volunteer military is more likely to be preferable to a draft the larger the size of the military. The opposite is the case with either costly testing or deadweight loss from taxation to support the military. Key Words: conscription, volunteer military, testing

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Perri, 2011. "Uncle Sam Wants Whom? The Draft and the Quality of Military Personnel," Working Papers 11-12, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:11-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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