Economic impact of a Draft

As I was browsing through the articles online, I noticed an article written about the draft. I have heard about a draft recently and was interested how this would impact society if a draft was pushed through. The military services would definently decrease and change their bonus programs to get the right personnel in the right job. There would still be certain incentives for joining say the Marines over the Air Force, or vice-versa. Would there be a clause that would allow top athletes to pursue sports related goals, meaning recruitment into either the pro's or a college program? Would there be a clause that allows for religious activities, like a mission? Or, what if a young man is married, is he exempt? There would be a different focus for the young men and women if the draft was passed. The economies around training areas such as Fort Sill, and Fort Bragg would increase dramatically due to the large influx of soldiers.
In closing, other countries have a mandatory service period for all young men, and in some cases women. Would America be better off economically and socially by instituting a mandatory service period rather than a draft?


Dr. Tufte said...

Most of the societal aspects of the draft, religious service, or things like the Peace Corps, Americorps or Vista are - from an economic perspective - greatly overrated.

All of these things involve people giving up their time to do what someone else wants.

The thing you need to think through when analyzing something like this is that, with most forms of "required" service, no one will turn you away if you volunteer (and the evidence shows that people will volunteer a great deal of time for a huge range of stuff). Therefore, these things must be involuntary if they can't get enough volunteers.

In order for people to volunteer for something, the benefits must exceed the costs. If we see people not volunteering, they are telling us that either the benefits are too low or the costs are too high.

However, since someone in a position of authority usually does want people performing these tasks, it must mean that on net the benefits do exceed the costs.

If you put the two of those together, what we are talking about is a shift in benefits from those who perform the service to those who don't (say, by paying them less), and a shift in costs from those who should pay them to those that perform the service (perhaps by having them do something risky).

When you work through it this way, it becomes apparent why they push the idea that you are "helping out society" so hard. It's marketing to get you to buy into an idea that you wouldn't otherwise.

isabelle said...

I have thought alot about the draft, and I feel that it would create, to a more extreme degree, riots and picketing that we saw the last time the draft was instated. However, if the draft was instituted, my personal feelings are that no one should be exempt except for those who have medical reasons. If no one is volunteering, everyone must pick up the slack... in my mind. I am also intrigued by the two year mandatory service as a way to employ our armed forces. If we were to do this, then those who want to stay in will, and those who want to get out can.