A headline on the UK news talked about complaints that the government is using an additional 3500 soldiers to help with security at the Olympics. Why complain? The security seems crucial; and given that the soldiers are being paid anyway, and were not going to be deployed elsewhere, the opportunity cost of their time does not seem very high. (I’m assuming that the British Army is not maintained permanently larger for use in security in such events.) This seems much more efficient than hiring some temporaries for security, who might not be as well-trained and who would require pay.
A new RAND research report prepared for the U.S. Army explores the effect of military enlistment on individual earnings and the labor market. The authors used data from applicants to “active-component enlisted service” from 1989 through 2003, and followed them for up to 18 years. From the report:
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The authors find that military enlistment increases earnings in both the short and long-term: The percentage increase in earnings attributable to enlistment is about 40 percent in the first few years following application and diminishes to about 11 percent 14–18 years following application. Enlistment significantly delays college education in the short run. In the longer run, enlistment slightly increases the likelihood of attaining a two-year college degree, but it also decreases the likelihood of attaining a four-year college degree, especially among higher-aptitude youth.