Negative Effects of Military Conscription


The issue of national security is significant for every nation. It allows a country to be free from external influence and defend its own interests both domestically and internationally. That is why governments invest their resources in maintaining law enforcement agencies, intelligence offices, and the military. As for the army, a debatable question is whether a country needs mandatory military conscription. Also known as the draft, this term stands for the compulsory enlistment of individuals in military service. According to this system, the government organizes a process to select individuals that are obliged to become soldiers. Many people insist on the fact that this policy would be harmful to American society, and one should use the existing examples to justify this claim. Thus, this paper’s principal goal is to explain that military conscription would make the Unites States witness adverse consequences, including the violation of free will, increased crime rates, military mindset, and unemployment.

Adverse Outcomes

To begin with, one should emphasize that military conscription contradicts a constitutional right. Regoli states that this phenomenon “violates people’s rights to exercise free will” (par. 9). The presence of mandatory military service denotes that individuals’ preferences, thoughts, and the desire to determine their near future are ignored. This state of affairs would have a negative effect on the whole United States. Multiple young individuals would be enrolled in the army against their will, while others would try to escape this scenario. Consequently, there would exist a significant layer of the American population that would be dissatisfied with the government.

Another argument against military conscription relates to the fact that it interferes with people’s education path. According to Ila, “enlistment in the army takes place when youngsters are at the peak of their educational lives” (par. 17). It means that military service deprives individuals of the possibility to become university or college students when they want. The impact is even more adverse because exemption from the draft is not given to those people who have already been making progress in their education path. There is no doubt that these individuals can continue their education after service, but not all of them will follow this scenario for different reasons. It is a typical case when people decide not to return to college and look for a job instead. As a result, a country will lose a significant number of students, which will negatively influence its intellectual capital in the future.

In addition to education problems, it is necessary to comment on employment issues caused by military conscription. The given disadvantage stems from the previous one and stipulates that numerous individuals face difficulties to find a job after service. It is so because they usually do not have specific knowledge and skills that are required by civilian employers. Hjalmarsson and Lindquist argue that this issue is only typical for those people who experienced some problems with peers during service (“The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime and the Labor Market” 1). Irrespective of this, it is impossible to deny the fact that this situation implies negative economic consequences for a nation. It is so because such people have no choice but to ask for help from the government. For example, this scenario means that more people will qualify for unemployment and welfare benefits. It means that the imposition of military conscription would be expensive for the US.

Furthermore, it is challenging to refute the idea that mandatory military service can harmfully impact people’s personalities and beliefs. Navajas et al. stipulate that men who have been conscripted tend to adopt a military mindset that influences their thoughts and behavior throughout their life (1). Such a state of mind is suitable for soldiers and other military personnel representatives, but it can lead to many problems in civil life. This claim relates to the fact that militarized individuals are often more aggressive than others. They can feel their superiority over others, and this approach often results in conflicts. They also tend to purchase and use guns, which can have dangerous consequences. Thus, one can say that a military mindset can potentially endanger social safety and security because particular individuals bring warfare concepts to a peaceful way of living. As for the US, the country does not need to militarize its population, which justifies the idea of refraining from the draft.

It is possible to keep developing the previous idea to state that mandatory conscription increases criminal behavior in a community. It happens because military training teaches individuals to use force, and they can apply it by violating the law during civil life. Hjalmarsson and Lindquist explain that this behavior “can be attributed to negative peer effects experienced during service” (“The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime” 2522). It is not a surprise that young soldiers can be subject to aggressive and even humiliating attitudes in the army. There is an opinion that this approach helps educate true warriors. However, it results in the fact that people’s mental health become worsened and unstable. This scenario also leads to the case that young individuals become fierce, which allows them to commit crimes post-service. As a result, one can suppose that the imposition of mandatory military conscription would increase crime rates in the United States.

When it comes explicitly to the US, one should stipulate that the country does not need mandatory military service. It is so because a sufficient number of millennials voluntarily join the army without forceful government actions ( The idea behind this claim is that many individuals understand the importance of military service or have a strong internal desire to become soldiers. Consequently, the army faces essential benefits since it consists of like-minded people who do not need any external motivation or supervision to behave appropriately. Simultaneously, the situation would significantly change if military service becomes mandatory. In this case, military conscription would provide the army with many unprepared, both physically and mentally, individuals, which will make the armed forces less efficient. As a result, one can suppose that military conscription will undermine the US army’s morale and make it weaker.

Even though the information above has just presented many arguments against mandatory military service, some people still believe that this phenomenon is necessary. They insist on the fact that the draft makes society unified because it leads to the cooperation of people with different backgrounds. This phenomenon is essential to consolidate a diverse and multinational society. Furthermore, Obinger admits that military conscription is necessary “to secure mass loyalty in times of war and military threat” (7). The supporters of this idea claim that the phenomenon under analysis is significant because it only allows a nation to reckon on military power. However, it is possible to mention that this point of view is outdated, and the previous examples have revealed its potential drawbacks. In addition to that, a scholarly study by Asal et al. demonstrates that modern democracies are unlikely to implement military conscription (1456). Since the United States is one of those countries that actively broadcast democratic values internationally, it has sufficient arguments to eliminate the draft and rely on voluntary armed forces.


It is impossible to imagine any nation that does not have any armed forces. That is why the army is one of the foundational principles for every state. At present, there are different ways of how a country can create its army, and military conscription is among them. However, one should note that the given strategy implies a few significant disadvantages. Firstly, military conscription violates people’s right to express free will. Secondly, mandatory military service creates some problems for individuals’ education, which can further result in higher unemployment rates in a country. Thirdly, the draft results in the fact that many civilians have a military mindset, which has the potential to increase crime rates. Fourthly, military conscription can make the nation’s armed forces weaker and less efficient because this phenomenon would provide the army with many physically and mentally unprepared individuals. Finally, it has been indicated that the absence of military conscription is typical for democracies. Thus, even though many people tend to believe that mandatory military service is necessary, the given paper has justified that this phenomenon would provide the United States with many adverse outcomes.

Works Cited

Asal, Victor, et al. “I Want You! The Determinants of Military Conscription.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 61, no. 7, 2017, pp. 1456-1481.

Hjalmarsson, Randi, and Matthew J. Lindquist. “The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime.” The Economic Journal, vol. 129, no. 622, 2019, pp. 2522-2562.

“The Causal Effect of Military Conscription on Crime and the Labor Market.” Working Papers in Economics, no. 645, 2016, pp. 1-70.

Ila. “10 Pros and Cons of Compulsory Military Service.” 2020, Web.

Navajas, Gabriela Ertole, et al. “The Long-Term Effect of Military Conscription on Personality and Beliefs.” Review of Economics and Statistics, 2020, pp. 1-34.

Obinger, Herbert. “Conscription, the Military, and Welfare State Development.” Historical Social Research, vol. 45, no. 2 (172), 2020, pp. 7-26. “Mandatory National Service – Top 3 Pros and Cons.” 2019, Web.

Regoli, Natalie. “10 Meaningful Pros and Cons of Mandatory Military Service.” ConnectUS, 2018, Web.

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