Who were the US Peace Corps Volunteers and where did they serve?

56 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2024

See all articles by Dongil Lee

Dongil Lee

KDI School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: December 29, 2023

Abstract

Who were the US Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs)? When, where, and how long did they serve in their missions? Despite public interest in the foreign aid agency, there are few studies providing answers to these fundamental questions. Using official government records on all volunteers–over 240,000–from 1961 through 2018, I explore how the agency evolved over the past six decades. During the period, the agency sent, on average, 4,000 PCVs abroad every year, reaching its pinnacle in the mid-1960s. Female and non-white volunteers became increasingly more common. Descriptive statistics suggest that country-level volunteer assignments were driven by multiple motives: economic need, U.S. diplomatic relations, and safety and security concerns with regard to host countries. Among them, concerns about safety and security are particularly important for volunteer assignments, unlike monetary forms of foreign aid. Taken together, the supply and demand side of the PCV assignment were shaped by both changes in American society and international politics.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Dongil, Who were the US Peace Corps Volunteers and where did they serve? (December 29, 2023). KDI School of Pub Policy & Management Paper No. 23-17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4703395 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4703395

Dongil Lee (Contact Author)

KDI School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 184
Seoul, 130-868
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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