Military service as a bridge to opportunity: The path to voluntary enlistment


Wang, Lin (2008). Military service as a bridge to opportunity: The path to voluntary enlistment. 2008 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Military service from World War II to the present has provided educational benefits which define a path to greater opportunity. The Volunteer Armed Forces today offer veterans both educational and training benefits as an incentive for military service. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this research investigates factors that channel young people toward military service. We hypothesize that young people enter the military service for different reasons. We find that socioeconomic status, cognitive capability, and high school academic performance differentiate military enlistees with college experience from those without. Respondents who have been to college by Wave III are likely to have above average capability. Among the college goers, those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to join the military, perhaps because they seek financial support to go to college. On the other hand, respondents who have not attended college by wave III are likely to come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds or to have engaged in delinquent behaviors in the past. Military service offers a new start and training opportunities for future career development.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2008 Add Health Users Conference


Wang, Lin

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID