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):   LS

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

This paper is available as PDF (658 K) or via email.

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:
Cook and Durrance w17709 The Virtuous Tax: Lifesaving and Crime-Prevention Effects of the 1991 Federal Alcohol-Tax Increase
Dougherty, Frisancho, and Krishna w17693 Employment Protection Legislation and Plant-Level Productivity in India
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
Rossin-Slater, Ruhm, and Waldfogel w17715 The Effects of California's Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers' Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes
NBER Videos

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

Contact Us