Conscription and Crime: Evidence from the Argentine Draft Lottery

Sebastian Galiani, Martín A Rossi, and Ernesto Schargrodsky, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3(2), 119-136, April .


We estimate the causal effect of mandatory participation in military service on individuals' subsequent involvement in criminal activities. To identify this causal effect, we exploit the random assignment of young men to conscription in Argentina through a draft lottery. Using a dataset that includes draft eligibility, participation in military service, and criminal records, we find that conscription increases the likelihood of developing a criminal record. The effects are significant not only for cohorts that provided military service during wartime, but also for those that served during peacetime. Our results do not support the introduction of conscription for anti-crime purposes.

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