Community Socioeconomic Change, Military Enlistment and Enlistee Characteristics, 1990 - 2008

Amy K. Bailey, Utah State University
Karin Abel, Utah State University
Stepfan Huntsman, Utah State University

American communities are not equally represented within the active duty military, suggesting that the attractiveness of enlistment might be affected by a young adult’s competing economic options. This paper examines the relationship between the demographic and human capital characteristics of US military enlistees, and the sociodemographic and economic contexts of their home communities. We ask first, whether the absolute and relative characteristics of enlistees vary based on the profiles and opportunity structures of their home communities. We also explore the contextual factors that predict high and low rates of enlistment. Finally, we will assess how the characteristics of a community’s enlistee population vary as its economic profile, demographics, and social organization change. We use a unique administrative data set, which includes all active duty enlistees in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2008, linked via ZIP codes to “neighborhood characteristics” using aggregated Census and ACS data, to answer these questions.

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Presented in Poster Session 3