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Title: Selection for Military Service in the Vietnam Era
Authors: Angrist, Joshua
Keywords: draft lottery
multiple selection criteria minimum chi-square
Issue Date: 1-Apr-1989
Series/Report no.: Working Papers (Princeton University. Industrial Relations Section) ; 250
Abstract: In discussions of the incidence of Vietnam era military service, it is often observed that blacks were over-represented among draftees in the early 1970's. The racial composition of the armed forces, however, was determined jointly by armed forces eligibility criteria and voluntary enlistment as well as by the failure of draftees to avoid conscription. The interaction of these selection criteria makes it impossible to use the armed forces racial mix as prima facie evidence regarding the burden of conscription. In this paper, a modeling strategy is developed that may be used to identify some of the parameters affecting the process of selection for military service. The approach taken here exploits the fact that in the early 1970's, the risk of conscription was randomly allocated in a series of lotteries. Data on enlistments during the 1971 draft lottery are fit to a behavioral model using the technique of Modified Minimum Chi-Square. The empirical work shows that although nonwhites were more likely than whites to be drafted and less likely to meet armed forces eligibility criteria, they were also more likely to consider military service an attractive alternative to civilian life. An additional and related finding is that the draft induced proportionately more whites than nonwhites to enlist. The elasticity of white enlistments with respect to the probability of conscription is shown to be twice as large as the elasticity of nonwhite enlistment. Thus, other things equal, conscription of equal numbers of whites and nonwhites may actually reduce nonwhite representation in the armed forces.
Appears in Collections:IRS Working Papers

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