Conscription as Regulation
with Andrei Shleifer
We examine the practice of military conscription around the world from the perspective of
two standard theories, and a new one, which emphasizes the fixed cost of introducing and
administering the draft as a deterrent to its use. We find that, holding the relative size of the military
constant, higher population countries are more likely to use the draft. We also find that French legal
origin countries, which we see as facing lower fixed and variable administrative costs, are more
likely to draft than common law countries. Conscription does not seem to be influenced by
democracy, and is influenced by the deadweight costs of taxation only in special circumstances. The
results suggest that fixed costs of introducing and administering new regulations may be an
important determinants of their use.
© copyright 2004 by Casey B. Mulligan and Andrei Shleifer.