Drawn into Violence: Evidence on 'What Makes a Criminal' from the Vietnam Draft Lotteries

20 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2013

See all articles by Jason M. Lindo

Jason M. Lindo

Texas A&M University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Charles Stoecker

University of California, Davis - Departments of Economics and Agricultural Resource Economics

Date Written: January 2014

Abstract

Draft lottery number assignment during the Vietnam Era provides a natural experiment to examine the effects of military service on crime. Using exact dates of birth for inmates in state and federal prisons in 1979, 1986, and 1991, we find that draft eligibility increases incarceration for violent crimes but decreases incarceration for nonviolent crimes among whites. This is particularly evident in 1979, where two‐sample instrumental variable estimates indicate that military service increases the probability of incarceration for a violent crime by 0.34 percentage points and decreases the probability of incarceration for a nonviolent crime by 0.30 percentage points. We conduct two falsification tests, one that applies each of the three binding lotteries to unaffected cohorts and another that considers the effects of lotteries that were not used to draft servicemen.

JEL Classification: K42, H56

Suggested Citation

Lindo, Jason M. and Stoecker, Charles, Drawn into Violence: Evidence on 'What Makes a Criminal' from the Vietnam Draft Lotteries (January 2014). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 52, Issue 1, pp. 239-258, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2357219 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecin.12001

Jason M. Lindo (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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Charles Stoecker

University of California, Davis - Departments of Economics and Agricultural Resource Economics ( email )

United States

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