Since the subject of the individual makeup of American servicemen came up in a comment response on a different post, I thought it appropriate to point out some interesting facts regarding the long promulgated and completely inaccurate assumptions that only lower income households produce our fighting men and women, and that they are generally uneducated young people. The falsehoods are often offered as evidence to vilify the military for “preying” on the less fortunate, disadvantaged youth that have no other options in life.
As the Center for Data Analysis demonstrates, the opposite is in fact true:
-The top three quintiles (that is, 20% brackets, or 60% of the total population) in terms of household income disproportionately produced enlisted recruits* between 2006 and 2007 (71% in both years). Conversely, the bottom two quintiles (40% of the total population) produced only 28.9% and 29% of the enlisted recruits in those years.
-During this same span, enlisted recruits originating form households of less than $40,000 annual income were underrepresented proportionally to their population, whereas those from households earning above this figure were overrepresented (to the tune of 75.5% of the total enlisted force).
-Only 1.3% of 2006 and 1.4% of 2007 enlisted recruits possessed no high school diploma. The United States population of 18-24 year olds boasts a truly impressive rate of 20.8% lacking these accomplishments.
It seems that our servicemen and women choose to enlist because of different reasons than some politicians, pundits, and activists would lead us to believe.
Of additional interest, the following statistics were also available regarding the states which produce our servicemen and women.
States overrepresented in 2007 proportionate to the 18-24 year old population (ratio):
West Virginia (1.20)
South Carolina (1.19)
North Carolina (1.13)
New Hampshire (1.10)
New Mexico (1.00)
States and districts underrepresented in 2007 proportionate to the 18-24 year old population (ratio):
South Dakota (0.90)
New York (0.68)
New Jersey (0.62)
Rhode Island (0.58)
North Dakota (0.53)
District of Columbia (0.25)
*For the purposes of this study, “enlisted recruits” are defined as non-prior service active duty accessions for the given timeframes.