January 31, 2023
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Posted by NCID
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Juan Pedro Ronconi, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics at Brown University, visited NCID to give a seminar entitled “Nation-Building Through Military Service.”

His paper studies the role played by compulsory military service in nation-building, focusing on the development of national values, such as the strength of the national identity on specific civic values such as going to vote and paying taxes, and on developing a more integrated society.

Ronconi claims that “despite the well-documented importance of nation-building policies to promote a cohesive and stable society and ultimately to foster long-run growth and the historical prevalence of conscription around the world, there is very scant rigorous evidence around this question. Specifically, we estimate the long-term impact of military service on outcomes related to national and civil values and social integration”.

According to Ronconi, military service reinforces the strength of the national identity. Still, it does not affect the civil values of individuals: “we also find robust evidence that serving in the military leads to more integrated individuals. People develop better attitudes towards our groups from within the country. For example, they develop a more diverse social network”.

He also studies the mechanisms and what aspect of military service achieves these results. “Analyzing open-ended responses with text analysis techniques, we uncover that the main channel is the direct inculcation of values during the experience. Namely, social integration and national values were actively inculcated during conscription”, he says. 

A one-year program can lead to life changes in this type of outcome, and this is being driven by peacetime military service. It is not about combat exposure or service during periods in which the country is at war.