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The Draft and Risk of Death

And military conscription is also more hazardous to soldiers’ health than is an all-volunteer force. The reason is that conscription permits government to treat young people as cannon fodder — as a relatively costless source of ammunition to hurl at the enemy. Anything perceived as relatively costless will be used indiscriminately, abused, wasted.

In contrast, when government must offer soldiers a package of financial and work-condition incentives sufficient to entice them to join the military voluntarily, government will more scrupulously economize upon the precious human lives that man its military. Principally, it will invest more heavily in military hardware and technology as substitutes, at the margin, for human labor. Fewer soldiers than otherwise will be put in harm’s way – and, hence, fewer people will die.