Youth Information Networks and Propensity to Serve in the Military

by Diana Gehlhaus

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 3.4 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Military recruitment is a perennial challenge. Estimates show just 30 percent of youth are fully qualified to enlist, and many do not consider serving. To meet this challenge, the military must continually assess and adapt its recruiting approaches. This dissertation aids military recruitment planners by providing a more comprehensive understanding of how youth build and access their career and educational information networks in high school, as part of their decision-making process.

This dissertation consists of three papers. The first paper explores the many theories and factors that affect youth career and educational decision-making, integrating several disciplines that have contributed separately to understanding youth in this context. The second paper provides an exploration of two sources of data—a longitudinal survey from the U.S. Department of Education and interviews with high school juniors and newly enlisted U.S. Air Force recruits. I segment youth into seven groups of interest and evaluate how each builds and uses its information networks in high school. The third paper visualizes and describes youth information networks across groups using concepts from social network analysis. I find that youth information networks are dynamic and evolving, with four-year college-bound youth and females having the strongest networks and youth neither enrolling in college nor serving in the military having the weakest. I also find that social-emotional wellbeing, degree of focus, and motivation are important factors in how youth build their networks and make career and educational decisions. I then provide insights and implications for military recruitment planners on how to more effectively engage with youth.  This could include marketing strategies designed for the full youth life-course with multiple points of engagement and doing more to distinguish and reach out to youth in a social network context.

Table of Contents

  • Paper One

    Youth Information Networks and Propensity to Serve in the Military: A Review of Relevant Literature

    • Chapter One

      Introduction

    • Chapter Two

      A Review of Decision-Making Literature

    • Chapter Three

      Theories of Behavioral Change and Policy Interventions

    • Chapter Four

      Next Steps

  • Paper Two

    Youth Information Networks and Propensity to Serve in the Military: Data Collection, Methods, and Exploratory Analysis

    • Chapter One

      Introduction

    • Chapter Two

      Data Sources and Collection

    • Chapter Three

      Data and Methods

    • Chapter Four

      Quantitative Analysis

    • Chapter Five

      Qualitative Analysis

    • Chapter Six

      Conclusion and Hypotheses

    • Chapter Seven

      Next Steps

    • Appendix A

      New Enlisted Recruit Interview Protocol

    • Appendix B

      High School Student Interview Protocol

    • Appendix C

      Variable Names and Meanings

    • Appendix D

      Additional Descriptive Statistics

    • Appendix E

      Correlation Analysis

  • Paper Three

    Youth Information Networks and Propensity to Serve in the Military: Network Analysis and Policy Implications

    • Chapter One

      Introduction

    • Chapter Two

      Social Network Analysis

    • Chapter Three

      Youth Information Network Overview

    • Chapter Four

      Youth Information Networks

    • Chapter Five

      Policy Implications

    • Appendix A

      Youth Information Networks, Freshman Year

    • Appendix B

      Descriptive Statistics

    • Appendix C

      Variable Names and Meanings

    • Appendix D

      Visual Comparison of Four-Year and No College Information Networks, Junior Year

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in May 2020 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Dr. Bruce Orvis (Chair), Dr. Charles Goldman, and Dr. Jennifer Li. Dr. Harry Holzer served as the outside reader.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.