Community Origins and Individual Characteristics of New Military Enlistees, 1990 - 2008

Amy K. Bailey, Utah State University

Since the 1973 transition to the All Volunteer Force (AVF), active duty personnel have become more racially and ethnically diverse, and an increasing proportion of soldiers are women. Enlistment has also become more spatially concentrated among rural communities and small towns. The paper I propose will exploit a unique data set to tease out the interactions between these two processes, identifying: 1) the demographic and human capital characteristics of military enlistees, as well as their spatial distribution; 2) the social and economic characteristics of communities that send a disproportionate number of their young adults into the armed forces; and 3) the relationship between these micro- and mezzo-level characteristics. This paper seeks to move the discussion beyond the current focus on individual-level predictors of military enlistment, or on broad generalities about the geographic origins of active duty personnel, to a more synthetic appreciation for the contributions of individual and community features.

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Presented in Session 106: Implications of Childhood Circumstances for Transitions to Adulthood in the U.S.