Regression Discontinuity

Army Service in the All-Volunteer Era

The United States has relied exclusively on volunteers to serve in the military since July 1, 1973. Millions have since enlisted in the military, and these volunteers are disproportionately Black and from lower-income households, yet we know relatively little about whether enlistment improves or worsens their prospects. This paper links the universe of Army applicants between 1990 and 2011 to IRS data and exploits eligibility thresholds at the 31st and 50th percentile of the nationally-representative Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) in a regression discontinuity design to estimate the long-term, dynamic effects of Army enlistment on earnings and related outcomes.