General Question

jca's avatar

Is there objective data available and current that shows the household income of military recruits?

Asked by jca (29274 points ) May 25th, 2014

I was involved in a discussion on another thread about the household income of military recruits. I feel, based upon what I have heard (but have no solid data to back it up) that people who join the military are disproportionately from the lower and working classes.

The Jelly I had the discussion with showed a 10 year old report from a conservative think tank called The Heritage Foundation, that showed otherwise.

I did not like the fact that the report that was linked was from a conservative think tank. I would be equally unhappy if it were from a liberal think tank.

I am not looking for slanted data that backs up my belief. I am looking for the truth.

Do you know of objective data or statistics that show the household income of military recruits?

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6 Answers

FlyingWolf's avatar

I have searched some scholarly journals and have found little information on the socioeconomic status of military enlistees. I’ll share some of the good information, but since I had to log into the library website to get to them, links wouldn’t work here so I can’t include the whole article.

From an article in the journal Foreign Policy, from September 4, 2004:

“The Pentagon does not keep information on the socioeconomic status of recruits, but evidence suggests that the lower middle class (regardless of race) bears a disproportionate burden. The military’s refusal to accept those without a high school diploma and a clean
criminal record often prevents the most disadvantaged from enlisting. As the survey notes, “[T]he biggest predictor of whether you’re in the military today is the unemployment rate in your home county.”

I also found many articles analyzing the contents of the Heritage Foundation study posted in the other thread that mostly agree with the data.

I think the most pertinent information here is that the Pentagon doesn’t track socioeconomic information on military recruits.

Seek's avatar

Considering that there are way more working and lower class people in the country than there are wealthy people, this seems obvious to me.

It’s no small potatoes that they’ve pushed joining the Army as a college tuition alternative for the last 30 years.

jerv's avatar

I haven’t seen formal studies, but if my 5½ years in the Navy is any indication, it’s roughly the same mix as the civilian world, though the more affluent tend to be officers instead of enlisted as they’re more likely to have a college degree before joining.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I hope not. Military income, yes, I would think that’s not to hard to find.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I don’t have any empirical data, but anecdotally, I have noticed that many young people seem to be enlisting as an alternative to (mostly unavailable) higher education and/or vocational training. An enlistment is a guaranteed income for a foreseeable amount of time, with the potential for training and experience that may come in handy afterwards.

jerv's avatar

@Yetanotheruser That is pretty much why I joined. I figured $28k might help pay for college while Nuke School would knock out a few dozen credits. Little did I realize that, by the time I got out, it’d only cover about half my tuition, and none of my living expenses.

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