National Service and Civic Engagement: A Natural Experiment


Ryan J.B. Garcia

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Garcia, Ryan J.B. (2014), National Service and Civic Engagement: A Natural Experiment, Political Behavior, DOI: 10.1007/s11109-014-9293-1
Nearly all studies that seek to uncover the effects of military service on the individual are plagued with the self-selection bias that comes with studying the all-volunteer force. To solve this problem, this paper takes advantage of the natural experiment afforded by the suspension of the French National Service program to produce unbiased causal analyses of the effect of national service on a range of civic engagement measures. Results generated using Instrumental Variables estimation indicate that there is little difference in individual-level civic engagement between service participants and their non-serving peers. However, when potential mediators are taken into account, the ensuing results imply that the substantial increase in the likelihood of having children associated with national service participation has a suppressive effect on service participants’ overall level of civic engagement.
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