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Essays on Military Labour Supply in the Era of Voluntary Recruitment




This thesis consists of an introductory part and two self-contained chapters related to the supply of volunteers to the Swedish Armed Forces. Chapter [I] represents the first effort to explore the relationship between civilian labour market conditions and the supply of labour to the military in the all-volunteer environment that Sweden entered after the abolishment of the peacetime draft in 2010. The effect of civilian unemployment on the rate of applications from individuals aged 18 to 25 to initiate basic military training is investigated using panel data on Swedish counties for the years 2011 through 2015. A linear fixed-effects model is estimated to investigate the relationship, while controlling for a range of socio-demographic covari- ates and unobserved heterogeneity on the regional level, as well as aggregate trends on the national level. The results indicate a positive and statistically significant relation- ship between the unemployment rate and the application rate. The results are robust to non-linear form specifications, as well as allowing the civilian unemployment rate to be endogenous. As such, the results suggest that the civilian labour market environment in Sweden can give rise to non-trivial fluctuations in the supply of applications to initiate basic military training within the Swedish Armed Forces. Chapter [II] studies how local labour market conditions influence the quality compo- sition of those who volunteer for military service in Sweden. A fixed-effects regression model is estimated on a panel data set containing IQ scores for those who applied for military basic training across Swedish municipalities during the period 2010 to 2016. The main finding is that low civilian employment rates at the local level tend to increase the mean IQ score of those who volunteer for military service, whereas the opposite is true if employment rates in the civilian labour market move in a more favourable direction. As such, the results suggest that the negative impact of a strong civilian economy on recruitment volumes is reinforced by a deterioration in recruit quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Bäckström, Peter, 2020. "Essays on Military Labour Supply in the Era of Voluntary Recruitment," Umeå Economic Studies 965, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:umnees:0965

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Asch, Beth J & Warner, John T, 2001. "A Theory of Compensation and Personnel Policy in Hierarchical Organizations with Application to the United States Military," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 523-562, July.
    2. Curtis J. Simon & John T. Warner, 2007. "Managing the all-volunteer force in a time of war," Economics of Peace and Security Journal, EPS Publishing, vol. 2(1), pages 20-29, January.
    3. David T. Ellwood & David A. Wise, 1987. "Uncle Sam Wants You-Sometimes: Military Enlistments and the Youth Labor Market," NBER Chapters, in: Public Sector Payrolls, pages 97-118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Panu Poutvaara & Andreas Wagener, 2007. "Conscription: Economic costs and political allure," Economics of Peace and Security Journal, EPS Publishing, vol. 2(1), pages 6-15, January.
    5. Brown, Charles, 1985. "Military Enlistments: What Can We Learn from Geographic Variation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 228-234, March.
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    More about this item


    conscription; enlistment test; fixed effects model; military labour market; military labour supply; military recruitment; recruitment; Roy model; self-selection;

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets


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