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.