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Above and beyond the call. Long-term real earnings effects of British male military conscription during WWII and the post-war years


  • Hart, Robert A


This paper adds to the literature on the relationship between military service and long-term real earnings. Based on a regression discontinuity design it compares the earnings of age cohorts containing British men who were required to undertake post-war National Service with later cohorts who were exempt. It also compares age cohorts containing men who were conscripted into military service during the first half of WWII and those with later spells of conscription. It argues that, in general, we should not expect large long-term real earnings differences between conscript and non-conscript cohorts since important elements of the former received military training and experience of direct value in the civilian jobs market. In the case of call-up during WWII there is even more reason to expect that there was no major disadvantages to those conscripted. This occurred largely because their pre-military job status was preserved due to the employment of substitute women workers who acted as a temporary employment buffer thereby protecting serving men's positions on the jobs hierarchy.

Suggested Citation

  • Hart, Robert A, 2009. "Above and beyond the call. Long-term real earnings effects of British male military conscription during WWII and the post-war years," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2009-09, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:stl:stledp:2009-09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Imbens, Guido & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 1995. "Evaluating the Cost of Conscription in The Netherlands," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 207-215, April.
    2. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1308-1320, September.
    3. Angrist, Joshua & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Why Do World War II Veterans Earn More Than Nonveterans?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(1), pages 74-97, January.
    4. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-336, June.
    5. Hart, Robert A., 2009. "Did British Women Achieve Long-Term Economic Benefits from Working in Essential WWII Industries?," IZA Discussion Papers 4006, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    7. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    8. Paolo Buonanno, 2006. "Long-term Effects of Conscription: Lessons from the UK," Working Papers (-2012) 0604, University of Bergamo, Department of Economics.
    9. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-1286, December.
    10. Hart, Robert A., 2007. "Women doing men's work and women doing women's work: Female work and pay in British wartime engineering," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 114-130, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Grenet, Julien & Hart, Robert A. & Roberts, J. Elizabeth, 2011. "Above and beyond the call. Long-term real earnings effects of British male military conscription in the post-war years," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 194-204, April.

    More about this item


    National Service; WWII conscription; long-term real earnings; regression discontinuity design;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-

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