Race, Ethnicity and the Military

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Atlanta
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Fernando Lozano, Pomona College

Income and Health in African America: Evidence From Union Army Pensions

Shari Eli
,
University of Toronto
Trevon Logan
,
Ohio State University

Abstract

We present the first analysis of the relationship between income and health for African Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century using the cohort of Union Army veterans. Since veterans received pensions based on disability, estimates of income effects on mortality may be biased as ill veterans received larger pensions. Therefore, we propose an exogenous source of variation in pensions: the discretion of individual Pension Bureau doctors when certifying illness. We find large effects which suggests that some of the black-white disparities in health status over this past century stem from black-white differentials in access to government programs.

Naval Power and the Rise of the South

Melinda Miller
,
University of Michigan
Ahmed Rahman
,
U.S. Naval Academy

Abstract

While the United States is generally considered to be a fairly militaristic society, this militarism is far from evenly geographically distributed. This paper uses a novel approach to capture the political economy of military power’s evolution and regional distribution. Using personnel records of officers serving in the U.S. Navy from 1870 to the late 1930s, we construct a measure of military representation across U.S. counties from the Reconstruction period to the dawn of the Second World War. Our hypothesis is that regions that are initially economically depressed and provide limited economic opportunities will tend to be overrepresented among naval leadership, leading to a relative “Southernization” of the officer corps within the U.S. Navy. We investigate how the presence of southern officers correlated with the increasing marginalization of black sailors within the Navy, including policy changes and incidences of racial violence.

Segregation and Homeownership in the Early Twentieth Century

John Parman
,
College of William and Mary
Trevon Logan
,
Ohio State University

Abstract

Racial gaps in homeownership over the past century in the United States have profound implications for black-white gaps in wealth, health, education, and public goods. Closely related to these gaps are patterns of residential sorting on the basis of race. We use new county-level segregation estimates for the period of 1880 to 1940 combined with homeownership data from the federal census to document a general rise in residential segregation in both urban and rural counties occurring alongside rising homeownership rates. However, we find a negative relationship between segregation and homeownership rates in the cross section for both white and black households. To further explore this relationship, we follow Fetter (2013) and use eligibility for GI Bill benefits as an exogenous source of variation in the ability to obtain a mortgage. We find that living in a more segregated county substantially reduced the impact of GI Bill benefits on white homeownership rates, suggesting that segregated locations potentially hindered both white and black homeownership

Who Will Fight – The All-Volunteer Army after 9/11

Susan Carter
,
U.S. Military Academy
Alexander Smith
,
U.S. Military Academy
Carl Wojtaszek
,
U.S. Military Academy

Abstract

Is sustained armed conflict in the era of the all-volunteer force consistent with the perception, common in earlier eras, that it is “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight”? We find that as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan progressed and combat risk increased, there was an increase in the fraction of active-duty Army enlistees who were white or from high-income neighborhoods and a decrease in the fraction who were black or from low-income neighborhoods. Among men, we find that the deployment and combat injuries of white and Hispanic soldiers increased relative to black soldiers and that deployment and combat injuries of soldiers from high-income neighborhoods increased relative to those from low-income neighborhoods, even as the Army lowered enlistment standards. Furthermore, controlling for the test scores that largely determine occupation eligibility, we find that white and higher income recruits were more likely to select combat occupations. This finding suggests that non-white and low socio-economic status men did not bear a disproportionate burden in the last decade of war.

Race and Gender Differences in the United States Military

Marigee Bacolod
,
Naval Postgraduate School
Latika Chaudhary
,
Naval Postgraduate School

Abstract

This study compares and contrasts the career paths of male and female enlistees by race in the U.S. military. Our time period from 2000-2015 covers an important era of integration where the number of women serving increased from under 5% to close to 15% across services and as the fraction of minorities also increased (particularly Hispanics). This is timely given the recent announcement by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on December 3, 2015 that all jobs in the U.S. military will now be open to women. <br />
<br />
Using individual data from the Defense Manpower Data Center for cohorts of enlisted military personnel that began their service between 2000 and 2015, we analyze the roles of individual factors such as gender, race, ability, education, marital status, and local economic conditions on promotion within and attrition from the military. Preliminary results show that females leave the service at a higher rate than observationally similar males in both their first-term and overall, with the highest female loss being seen in the Army and Marine Corps. Using the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score as a proxy for ability, higher quality females in the later cohorts are also more likely to leave the Navy and the Army. Finally, results show that females and minorities promote at a slower rate than males across all services. <br />
<br />
The findings from this research inform policy debates not just in the Department of Defense, but also in civilian labor markets particularly where women are entering traditionally male-dominated occupations.
Discussant(s)
Marcella Alsan
,
Stanford University
Carlos Hernandez
,
University of Los Andes
Daniel Fetter
,
Wellesley College
Joshua Hall
,
West Virginia University
Michael Steinberger
,
Pomona College
JEL Classifications
  • J0 - General
  • N0 - General