Support for the Draft among Draftable Males

Paul Walker asks an interesting question in the comments about men being more supportive than women of a military draft:

Any age breakdown on that. I would have thought that those men in the draftable age group would be against.

I replied by saying:

I’ll have a look at that, but my suspicion is that men of draftablle age would still be more in favour than women of draftable age. The rational/instrumental voter hypothesis doesn’t hold up empirically in a number of cases. I wouldn’t be surprise if draftable men were more in favour than nondraftable men. If political beliefs are expressive than instrumental, it could be that young men would want to be careful not to be seen as the sort of coward who would avoid fighting for their country.

I just had another look at the GSS, and it seems I was right that draftable men are still more in favour of the draft than women of the same age, but wrong in my speculation than draftable men might be more in favour than nondraftable men. The age of the draft has varied over time in the US, so here’s the data broken down into a few age groups:

draft18-25

draft18-30

draft18-45

draft46-older1So while draftable males, whether you suppose the maximum draft age would be 25, 30 or 45, are more likely than women of the same group to support the draft, older males are even more likely to be in favour. The level of support among men aged 18-30 is less than that of women of all ages. These results are all statistically significant at p<.001 (shown in a different window of GSS’s data analysis tool, and I’m too lazy to download the data to make my own tables). Of course, there could be sampling bias – there are certainly more females than males answering the survey which should lead us to be somewhat suspicious.

2 Responses

  1. The support for the draft goes up with age in both males and females, but the figures are a lot closer in the 18-25 group, which I guess means being able to be drafted puts you off the idea.

    Also I would re-ask the same question I ask in the other comment, what then do we make of Andrea Menclova’s work that shows the effects of the Vietnam draft on paternity timing: turns out, the threat of being sent to war and the option to stay home if you’ve family responsibilities provides an incentive to speed up family formation

    • Agreed on your first point. I was only meaning to say that males of draftable age are still more in favour than females of the same age.

      As to your second point, I’ll repost the response I just made on the other thread:

      “I think people actually taking action to avoid the draft is entirely consistent with those same people having a stated political preference for the draft. The logic of expressive voting and rational irrationality implies that we can vote for or publicly support policies which we would prefer not be enacted if we were the decisive voice on the matter.

      I’ll have to read Andrea’s paper. Looks neat.”

      Also, most people in both groups are against a return to the draft, but women are relatively more opposed.

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