August 8, 2008 | Working Papers

Soldiers to Citizens: The Link Between Military Service and Volunteering

Authors: Rebecca Nesbit

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Research has shown that military service is linked with some forms of political engagement, such as voting, especially for minorities. In this paper, we explore the relationship between military service and another measure of civic engagement— volunteering. Military service can help to overcome barriers to volunteering by helping to socialize people with a norm of civic responsibility, by providing social resources and skills that compensate for the lack of personal resources, and by making people aware of opportunities to volunteer and “asking” them to do so. The data used to explore this research question are from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) 2005 September supplement on volunteering. We find that military service is positively related to volunteering among blacks and Hispanics. Married veterans and veterans over the age of 65 are more likely to volunteer than nonveterans.

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