The Journal of Politics

ARTICLES

Drafting Support for War: Conscription and Mass Support for Warfare

Michael C. Horowitza1 and Matthew S. Levenduskya2

a1 University of Pennsylvania

a2 University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

How does a military’s recruitment policy—whether a country has a draft or conscript army—influence mass support for war? We investigate how military recruitment affects the way the American public evaluates whether a war is worth fighting. While some argue that conscription decreases support for war by making its costs more salient, others argue that it increases support by signaling the importance of the conflict. Existing evidence is inconclusive, with data limited to one particular conflict. Using an original survey experiment, we find strong support for the argument that conscription decreases mass support for war, a finding that replicates in several different settings. We also show that these findings are driven by concerns about self-interest, consistent with our theory. We conclude by discussing the relevance of these findings for debates about how domestic political conditions influence when states go to war.

(Online publication May 13 2011)

Footnotes

Michael C. Horowitz is Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215.

Matthew Levendusky is Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215.

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