Explaining the worldwide decline in the length of mandatory military service, 1970–2010
Abstract Compulsory military service has declined considerably since 1970. This explained by changes on both the extensive and intensive margins by governments. While the decision to use conscription for military purposes has been studied extensively, in this paper we examine empirically the factors underlying the decline in the duration of military service obligations. Employing data from the Economic Freedom of the World index observed at 5-year intervals from 1970 to 2010, we find that the probability of a shorter military service time is positively associated with smaller country populations, smaller lagged army sizes, increases in primary schooling among young males, and having common law legal origins. Our empirical approach also highlights how the elderly population exhibits a nonlinear relationship with the length of conscriptees’ time in uniform.