Does the military turn men into criminals? New evidence from Australia’s conscription lotteries

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Journal Article
Journal of Population Economics, 2016, 29 (1), pp. 197 - 218
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© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. In this paper, we estimate the effect of military service on the perpetration of crime. Several hypothesized links exist between service and crime, but recent quasi-experimental studies on this subject have produced mixed results. Our contribution to this literature uses Australia’s Vietnam era conscription lotteries for identification along with criminal court data from Australia’s three largest states. We find no evidence that military service increases or decreases crime in any category. In our preferred specification, the 95 % confidence interval rules out positive (negative) effects larger than 11 % (10 %) relative to the mean crime rate.
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