Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

The Role of Economists in Ending the Draft


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Economists laid much of the intellectual foundation for ending military conscription in the United States. Walter Oi and others laid out a solid analytic case against the draft, pointing out that the cost of a drafted military exceeded the cost of an all-volunteer force but that this cost fell heavily on the shoulders of draftees and draft-induced volunteers. Economists, including Milton Friedman, James C. Miller III, and W. Allen Wallis, made this case to the public. Economists were heavily involved in writing the staff reports for the President’s Commission on the All-Volunteer Force. When the draft rears its ugly head, economists are freedom’s first line of defense.

Podcast related to this article: David Henderson on Economists and the Draft (EJW Audio, November 2010).