Enlistment Among Applicants for Military Service

Determinants and Incentives

by Bruce R. Orvis, Martin T. Gahart, Karl Schutz


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Drawing primarily on results from the 1983 Survey of Military Applicants, a survey of male youths without prior military service who took the written test to qualify for the military, this report presents findings on three research issues: (1) the implementation of the programs associated with the Enlistment Bonus Test, a nationwide experiment on the effectiveness of various cash enlistment bonuses; (2) factors that lead nonprior service applicants to enlist; and (3) the development and evaluation of methods of using survey enlistment intention responses to questions about the likelihood of enlisting under specific hypothetical options to help predict the effect of implementing these options. The results support the implementation of the test and, thus, the viability of its conclusions; indicate that civilian job opportunities, social support for enlisting, college plans, and finances affect the enlistment decisions of applicants, suggesting that messages emphasizing the job stability, training, and educational opportunities provided by the military could be effective in advertising and recruiting efforts; and validate the use of intention information in the design and execution of tests of prospective enlistment options.

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