Conscription and the Returns to Education: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity
49 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2014 Last revised: 15 Apr 2015
Date Written: February 2015
In 1997, the French government put into effect a law that permanently exempted young French male citizens born after Jan 1, 1979 from mandatory military service while still requiring those born before that cutoff date to serve. This paper uses a regression discontinuity design to identify the effect of peacetime conscription on education and labor market outcomes. Results indicate that conscription eligibility induces a significant increase in years of education, which is consistent with conscription avoidance behavior. However, this increased education does not result in either an increase in graduation rates, or in employment and wages. Additional evidence shows conscription has no direct effect on earnings, suggesting that the returns to education induced by this policy was zero.
Keywords: Regression Discontinuity Design, Returns to Education, France, Conscription, Signaling
JEL Classification: I20, J24, J30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation