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The Intergenerational Transmission of War

Author

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  • Campante, Filipe

    (Harvard University)

  • Yanagizawa-Drott, David

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

We study whether war service by one generation affects service by the next generation in later wars, in the context of the major US theaters of the 20th century. To identify a causal effect, we exploit the fact that general suitability for service implies that how close to age 21 an individual's father happened to be at a time of war is a key determinant of the father's likelihood of participation. We find that a father's war service experience has a positive and significant effect on his son's likelihood of service. We estimate an intergenerational transmission parameter of approximately 0.1, across all wars, and that each individual war had a substantial impact on service in those that followed. We find evidence consistent with cultural transmission of war service from fathers to sons, and with the presence of substitutability between this direct transmission and oblique transmission (from society at large). In contrast, father's war service increases sons' educational achievement and actually reduces the likelihood of military service outside of wartime, suggesting that the results cannot be explained by material incentives or broader occupational choice. Taken together, our results indicate that a history of wars helps countries overcome the collective action problem of getting citizens to volunteer for war service.

Suggested Citation

  • Campante, Filipe & Yanagizawa-Drott, David, 2015. "The Intergenerational Transmission of War," Working Paper Series rwp15-039, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp15-039
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    Cited by:

    1. Stepan Jurajda & Dejan Kovac, 2016. "What's in a Name in a War," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp573, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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