The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime and the Labor Market

72 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2016

See all articles by Randi Hjalmarsson

Randi Hjalmarsson

University of Gothenburg; Queen Mary, University of London

Matthew J. Lindquist

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

This paper uses detailed individual register data to identify the causal effect of mandatory peacetime military conscription in Sweden on the lives of young men born in the 1970s and 80s. Because draftees are positively selected into service based on their draft board test performance, our primary identification strategy uses the random assignment of potential conscripts to draft board officiators who have relatively high or low tendencies to place draftees into service in an instrumental variable framework. We find that military service significantly increases post-service crime (overall and across multiple crime categories) between ages 23 and 30. These results are driven primarily by young men with pre-service criminal histories and who come from low socioeconomic status households. Though we find evidence of an incapacitation effect concurrent with conscription, it is unfortunately not enough to break a cycle of crime that has already begun prior to service. Analyses of labor market outcomes tell similar post-service stories: individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds have significantly lower income, and are more likely to receive unemployment and welfare benefits, as a result of service, while service significantly increases income and does not impact welfare and unemployment for those at the other end of the distribution. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that peer effects may play an important role in explaining the unintended negative impacts of military service.

Keywords: conscription, crime, criminal behaviour, draft, incapacitation, labor market, military conscription, military draft, unemployment

JEL Classification: H56, J08, K42

Suggested Citation

Hjalmarsson, Randi and Lindquist, Matthew J., The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime and the Labor Market (February 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11110. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2733083

Randi Hjalmarsson (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Box 640
Vasagatan 1, E-building, floor 5 & 6
Göteborg, 40530
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://economics.handels.gu.se/english/staff/professors/randi-hjalmarsson

Queen Mary, University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Matthew J. Lindquist

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) ( email )

Kyrkgatan 43B
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden

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