Volunteer Militaries, the Draft, and Support for War

Patrick L. Warren (Clemson University)

Abstract: This paper models how a nation's military manpower procurement system affects popular sup- port for war and political choices regarding war. When citizens have idiosyncratic benefits from war and costs from serving, I characterize when a volunteer military maximizes support, and when a mixture of volunteer and conscripted forces does. Pure conscription never maximizes support. The personnel systems cannot be ranked ex-ante by efficiency, because each makes mistakes the other avoids. Ceteris paribus, political systems requiring only weak support to initiate wars have more war under pure conscription, while those requiring strong support have more war under a volunteer system.

Download the paper