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The Political Economy of Conscription

  • Poutvaara, Panu


    (University of Munich)

  • Wagener, Andreas


    (Leibniz University of Hannover)

Though in decline recently, military conscription is still a widely used mode of staffing armies. Since not many valid economic, social or military arguments in favor of the draft can be put forward, the question emerges why societies choose to rely on it. In this survey we explain the political allure of military conscription by its specific intra- and intergenerational incidence as a tax. From a public choice perspective, there is always a vast majority of people in favor of the introduction and maintenance of military draft, as compared to a professional army. Empirical evidence for this conclusion appears to be mixed, however. Political preferences with respect to conscription involve concerns about its unfairness and questionable record on social accounts. Special interests may also matter.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4429.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers (eds.), The Handbook on the Political Economy of War, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4429
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  1. Casey B. Mulligan, 2005. "Conscription as Regulation," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 85-111.
  2. Lau, Morten I. & Poutvaara, Panu & Wagener, Andreas, 2004. "Dynamic costs of the draft," Munich Reprints in Economics 19265, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Keller, Katarina & Poutvaara, Panu & Wagener, Andreas, 2006. "Military Draft and Economic Growth in OECD Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 2022, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Thomas Lemieux & David Card, 2001. "Going to College to Avoid the Draft: The Unintended Legacy of the Vietnam War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 97-102, May.
  5. John T. Warner & Beth J. Asch, 2001. "The Record and Prospects of the All-Volunteer Military in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 169-192, Spring.
  6. Michael Lokshin & Ruslan Yemtsov, 2008. "Who bears the cost of Russia's military draft?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(3), pages 359-387, 07.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521447287 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Poutvaara, Panu & Wagener, Andreas, 2007. "To draft or not to draft? Inefficiency, generational incidence, and political economy of military conscription," Munich Reprints in Economics 19826, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Warner, John T., 1995. "The economics of military manpower," Handbook of Defense Economics, in: Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler (ed.), Handbook of Defense Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 347-398 Elsevier.
  10. Gordon, Roger H. & Bai, Chong-En & Li, David D., 1999. "Efficiency losses from tax distortions vs. government control," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 1095-1103, April.
  11. Piero Cipollone & Alfonso Rosolia, 2006. "Social Interactions in High School: Lessons from an Earthquake," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 596, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  12. J. Paul Dunne & Ron Smith & Dirk Willenbockel, 2005. "Models Of Military Expenditure And Growth: A Critical Review," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(6), pages 449-461.
  13. Imbens, G. & Van Der Klaauw, W., 1993. "Evaluating the Cost of Conscription in the Netherlands," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1632, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  14. Eric Maurin & Theodora Xenogiani, 2007. "Demand for Education and Labor Market Outcomes: Lessons from the Abolition of Compulsory Conscription in France," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
  15. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 6355.
  16. 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.
  17. Spencer, Daniel L & Woroniak, Alexander, 1969. "Valuing Transfer of Military-Acquired Skills to Civilian Employment," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 467-92.
  18. Michael D. Stroup & Jac C. Heckelman, 2001. "Size Of The Military Sector And Economic Growth: A Panel Data Analysis Of Africa And Latin America," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 329-360, November.
  19. Avant, Deborah, 2000. "From Mercenary to Citizen Armies: Explaining Change in the Practice of War," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(01), pages 41-72, December.
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