Saturday, April 01, 2006

U.S. Selective Service System: History and Records :: 1973 Draft Numbers

It's 2006. Those of those us who turn 53 this year celebrate a special birthday this year because our age (53) matches our birth year ('53).

On February 2, 1972 my friends and I at Upsala College (East Orange, New Jersey) gathered around the TV to see our fate determined before our eyes.

God bless the man born on March 6, 1953; God bless the poor man who was not drafted to go in his place. The man born March 6 drew #1 and was sure to go to Vietnam if he dropped out of college. I presume the rate of graduation for those gentlemen was rather high.

What the draft lottery did for labor economists is a story with a happier ending. Estimating the rate of return to schooling is tricky business because ability differences are usually unobserved to the scientist, so the estimated return is subject to ability bias.

The draft lottery in effect acted to inject some men with greater education than others, abilities held constant. The estimates of the rate of return using the draft number as an instrumental variable are lower than consensus estimates where ability bias is not corrected.


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