Cover: Serving Her Country

Serving Her Country

An Analysis of Women's Enlistment

Published 1990

by James Hosek, Christine E. Peterson


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Using data drawn from a 1979 Department of Defense survey of enlistees and the 1979 wave of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Labor Force Behavior, this report examines one aspect of women's military service — the factors affecting the flow of new recruits. The analysis uses models of both individual willingness to enlist and the allocation of recruiter effort to enlist women and other groups. These models, estimated with a microdatabase containing many individual and local market variables, make it possible to circumvent the distorting effects of the overall demand constraint that has, in the past, jeopardized aggregate data analyses of women's enlistment. The authors compare the options and behavior of women with those of men. For example, they consider whether labor market forces influence young men and women differently; the ways in which marriage expectations affect the enlistment decision; whether the role of education expectations differs between the two sexes; and what impact local labor market conditions have on the individual's enlistment outcome. The research suggests that there are strong similarities between men and women in the factors influencing their enlistment decisions.

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