Military Officer Quality in the All-Volunteer Force

Matthew F. Cancian, Michael W. Klein

NBER Working Paper No. 21372
Issued in July 2015, Revised in August 2015
NBER Program(s):LS

We show a statistically significant and quantitatively meaningful decline in the intelligence of Marine Officers from 1980 to 2014 as measured by their scores on the General Classification Test (GCT) which has been shown to be a good predictor of success in the military. This contrasts with the increasing quality of enlisted personnel since 1973 when conscription ended. We argue that the source of this decline is the greater number of young Americans in college since Marine officers must have a four-year degree. The increasing diversity of the pool of incoming officers has not contributed to the decline in GCT scores.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21372

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