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The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime and the Labor Market

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  • Hjalmarsson, Randi

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Lindquist, Matthew J.

    () (Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI))

Abstract

This paper uses detailed individual register data to identify the causal effect of mandatory peacetime military conscription in Sweden on the lives of young men born in the 1970s and 80s. Because draftees are positively selected into service based on their draft board test performance, our primary identification strategy uses the random assignment of potential conscripts to draft board officiators who have relatively high or low tendencies to place draftees into service in an instrumental variable framework. We find that military service significantly increases post-service crime (overall and across multiple crime categories) between ages 23 and 30. These results are driven primarily by young men with pre-service criminal histories and who come from low socioeconomic status households. Though we find evidence of an incapacitation effect concurrent with conscription, it is unfortunately not enough to break a cycle of crime that has already begun prior to service. Analyses of labor market outcomes tell similar post-service stories: individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds have significantly lower income, and are more likely to receive unemployment and welfare benefits, as a result of service, while service significantly increases income and does not impact welfare and unemployment for those at the other end of the distribution. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that peer effects may play an important role in explaining the unintended negative impacts of military service.

Suggested Citation

  • Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2016. "The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime and the Labor Market," Working Papers in Economics 645, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0645
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/41804
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Torun, Huzeyfe, 2019. "Ex-ante labor market effects of compulsory military service," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 90-110.
    2. Lyk-Jensen, Stéphanie Vincent, 2018. "Does peacetime military service affect crime? New evidence from Denmark’s conscription lotteries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 245-262.
    3. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio, 2019. "The Impact of Mandatory Military Service. Evidence from Spain," UC3M Working papers. Economics 27980, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    4. Nguyen Dinh Tuan Vuong & David Flath, 2019. "Conscription and the developing countries," International Journal of Economic Policy Studies, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 119-146, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conscription; Crime; Criminal Behavior; Draft; Military Conscription; Military Draft; Incapacitation; Labor Market; Unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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