Military conscription, external security, and income inequality: The missing link
Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2020, vol. 32, issue 2, 312-347
This article seeks to analyze the political economy of military conscription policy and its relationship with a countryâ€™s external security environment. National security is modeled as a non-rivalrous and non-excludable public good, whose production technology consists of either centrally conscripted or competitively recruited military labor. Conscription is construed as an implicit discretionary tax on citizensâ€™ labor endowment. Based on this, I propose a simple political economy model of pure public goods provision financed by two policy instruments: a lump-sum income tax and a conscription tax. Constraint optimization of a quasi-linear utility function gives rise to three general classes of preferences: high- and low-skilled citizens will prefer an all-volunteer army, albeit of different size, whereas medium-skilled citizens will favor positive levels of conscription. These derived preferences allow me to tease out an explicit relationship between military manpower procurement policy, a countryâ€™s level of external threat, and its pre-tax income inequality levels. One of my key findings is that more egalitarian countries are more likely to use conscription as a military manpower procurement mechanism.
Keywords: Military conscription; national security; public goods; income inequality; conscription tax (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:32:y:2020:i:2:p:312-347
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