May 2021

IZA DP No. 14352: Effects of Mandatory Military Service on Wages and Other Socioeconomic Outcomes

Patrick A. Puhani, Margret K. Sterrenberg

In this paper, we estimate the effects of mandatory military service by exploiting the post-cold war decrease in the need for soldiers causing a substantial number of potential conscripts not to be drafted into the German military. Specifically, using previously unavailable information on degree of fitness in the military's medical exam as a control variable, we test for the effects of mandatory military service on wages; employment; marriage/partnership status; and satisfaction with work, financial situation, health, family life, friends, and life in general. We find almost no statistically significant effects of this 6 to 9 month career interruption for young German men, with the exception of hourly wage, which shows a negative point estimate of -15 percent with a large confidence interval of between -30 and -0.2 percent. This interval estimate is consistent with previous findings for the United States, Denmark, and the Netherlands.