The U.S. Armed Forces offer educational and training benefits as incentives for service. This study investigates the influence of status configurations on military enlistment and their link to greater educational opportunity. Three statuses (socioeconomic status of origin, cognitive ability and academic performance) have particular relevance for life course options. We hypothesize that young men with inconsistent statuses are more likely to enlist than men with consistent status profiles, and that military service improves access to college for certain configurations. Analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) show (1. that several status configurations markedly increased the likelihood of military enlistment and (2. within status configurations, recruits were generally more likely to enroll in higher education than nonveterans, with associate degrees being more likely.
Wang, L., Elder, G. H. & Spence, N. J. (2012). Status Configurations, Military Service and Higher Education. Social Forces; A Scientific Medium of Social Study and Interpretation, 91(2), 397-422. doi:10.1093/sf/sos174.