Can Compulsory Military Service Increase Civilian Wages? Evidence from the Peacetime Draft in Portugal

David Card, Ana Rute Cardoso

NBER Working Paper No. 17694
Issued in December 2011
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

Although military conscription was widespread during most of the past century, credible evidence on the effects of mandatory service is limited. We provide new evidence on the long-term effects of peacetime conscription, using longitudinal data for Portuguese men born in 1967. These men were inducted at a relatively late age (21), allowing us to use pre-conscription wages to control for ability differences between conscripts and non-conscripts. We find that the average impact of military service for men who were working prior to age 21 is close to zero throughout the period from 2 to 20 years after their service. These small average effects arise from a significant 4-5 percentage point impact for men with only primary education, coupled with a zero-effect for men with higher education. The positive impacts for less-educated men suggest that mandatory service can be a valuable experience for those who might otherwise spend their careers in low-level jobs.

download in pdf format
   (658 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17694

Published: Card, David, and Ana Rute Cardoso. 2012. "Can Compulsory Military Service Raise Civilian Wages? Evidence from the Peacetime Draft in Portugal." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(4): 57-93. DOI: 10.1257/app.4.4.57

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Conley and Heerwig w15105 The Long-Term Effects of Military Conscription on Mortality: Estimates from the Vietnam-era Draft Lottery
Mulligan and Shleifer w10558 Conscription as Regulation
Angrist w5192 Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants
Cook and Durrance w17709 The Virtuous Tax: Lifesaving and Crime-Prevention Effects of the 1991 Federal Alcohol-Tax Increase
Dougherty, Frisancho Robles, and Krishna w17693 Employment Protection Legislation and Plant-Level Productivity in India
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us