Collateral Gains From the Military? A Cross-National Analysis of the Armed Forces-Crime Relationship

Hung-En Sung, Columbia University
Doris Chu, University at Albany

Research has repeatedly showed that males with age ranging between 16 and 24 years old account for a disproportionately large volume of crime. Armed forces are major employers of young males in their crime-prone ages and thus could play an esdsential role in crime prevention. The military is a highly structured and regimented total institution in which rigid behavioral norms and close monitoring are imposed on both soldiers and officers. All-voluntary armed forces (which heavily rely on lower-class individuals to fill their ranks(, in particular, subject a significant number of high-risk youths to strict social discipline and control. This study assesses the crime reduction function of the military by formulating and testing two hypotheses. First, the relative size of the military is hypothesized to negatively correlate with crime rates. Second, all-voluntary armed forces are theorized to yield greater crime reduction effects than armed forces based on mandatory draft. Data from 139 countries for the 1990-1999 period will be analyzed to evaluate the two hypotheses. Findings will inform on the efficacy of armed forces in crime reduction and shed light on the potential impact of the technological revolution in military affairs on public safety.

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Updated 05/20/2006