This article considers the potential positive impact that the UK’s National Service had on the individuals who were conscripted from 1947-1963. It suggests that conscripts were more exposed to opportunities, in terms of social and geographical mobility, than those of closely following generations who did not have to complete National Service, but that, in terms of real earnings, National Service may not have resulted in much long-term real earnings difference.
We add to the literature on the long-term economic effects of male military service. We concentrate on postwar British conscription into the armed services from 1949 to 1960. It was called National Service and applied to males aged 18 to 26. Based on a regression discontinuity design we estimate the effect of military service on the earnings of those required to serve through conscription. We argue that, in general, we should not expect to find large long-term real earnings among conscripts compared to later birth cohorts of males who were not eligible for call-up. Our empirical evidence firmly rejects the view that conscription entails relative long-term real earnings differences.
Grenet, J., Hart, R. A. and Roberts, J. E., 2011. Above and beyond the call. Long-term real earnings effects of British male military conscription in the post-war years. Labour Economics, 18, pp. 194-204.