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The causal effect of military conscription on crime∗

Journal article
Authors Randi Hjalmarsson
Matthew J. Lindquist
Published in Economic Journal
Volume 129
Issue 622
Pages 2522-2562
ISSN 0013-0133
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 2522-2562
Language en
Subject categories Economics


© 2019 Royal Economic Society. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Economic Society. We study the causal effect of mandatory military conscription in Sweden on the criminal behaviour of men born in the 1970s. We find that military service significantly increases post-service crime (overall and across multiple crime categories) between the ages of 23 and 30. These results are driven primarily by young men who come from low socioeconomic status households and those with pre-service criminal histories, despite evidence of a contemporaneous incapacitation effect of service for the latter group. Much of this crime-inducing effect can be attributed to negative peer effects experienced during service. Worse post-service labour market outcomes may also matter.

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