Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

An Empirical Justification for the Use of Draft Lottery Numbers as a Random Treatment in Political Science Research

  • Adam J. Berinsky (a1) and Sara Chatfield (a2)

Abstract

Over the past several years, there has been growing use of the draft lottery instrument to study political attitudes and behaviors (see, e.g., Bergan 2009; Erikson and Stoker 2011; Henderson 2012; Davenport 2015). Draft lotteries, held in the United States from 1969 to 1972, provide a potentially powerful design; in theory, they should provide true randomization for the “treatment” of military service or behavioral reactions to the threat of such service. However, the first draft lottery conducted in 1969 was not conducted in a random manner, giving those citizens born in the fourth quarter of the year disproportionately higher chances of being drafted. In this note, we describe the randomization failure and discuss how this failure could in theory compromise the use of draft lottery numbers as an instrumental variable. We then use American National Election Studies data to provide support for the conclusion that individuals most affected by the randomization failure (those born in the fourth quarter of the year) largely do not look statistically distinct from those born at other times of the year. With some caveats, researchers should be able to treat the 1969 draft numbers as if they were assigned at random. We also discuss broader lessons to draw from this example, both for scholars interested in using the draft lottery as an instrumental variable, and for researchers leveraging other instruments with randomization failures. Specifically, we suggest that scholars should pay particular attention to the sources of randomization failure, sample attrition, treatment and dependent variable selection, and possible failure of the exclusion restriction, and we outline ways in which these problems may apply to the draft lottery instrument and other natural experiments.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      An Empirical Justification for the Use of Draft Lottery Numbers as a Random Treatment in Political Science Research
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      An Empirical Justification for the Use of Draft Lottery Numbers as a Random Treatment in Political Science Research
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      An Empirical Justification for the Use of Draft Lottery Numbers as a Random Treatment in Political Science Research
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

e-mail: sarachat@mit.edu (corresponding author)

Footnotes

Hide All

Authors' note: We thank Mike Sances and Seth Dickinson for helpful comments. Supplementary materials for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site. Replication data are available at the Harvard Dataverse: see Berinsky and Chatfield (2015) at http://dx.doi.org/10.7910/DVN/4K4VTC.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Angrist, Joshua D. 1990. Lifetime earnings and the Vietnam era draft lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administration Records. American Economic Review 80(3): 313–36.
Angrist, Joshua D., and B Krueger, Alan. 1991. Does compulsory school attendance affect schooling and earnings? Quarterly Journal of Economics 106(4): 9791014.
Bergan, Daniel E. 2009. The draft lottery and attitudes towards the Vietnam War. Public Opinion Quarterly 73(2): 379–84.
Berinsky, Adam, and Chatfield, Sara. 2015. Replication data for: An empirical justification for the use of draft lottery numbers as a random treatment in political science research .doi.org/10.7910/DVN/4K4VTC, Harvard Dataverse, V1.
Buckles, Kasey, and Hungerman, Daniel M. 2013. Season of birth and later outcomes: Old questions, new answers. Review of Economics and Statistics 95(3): 711–24.
Davenport, Tiffany C. 2015. Policy-induced risk and responsive participation: The effect of a son's conscription risk on the voting behavior of his parents. American Journal of Political Science 59(1): 225241.
Dunning, Thad. 2010. Design-based inference: Beyond the pitfalls of regression analysis? In Rethinking social inquiry, eds. Brady, Henry E. and Collier, David. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Dunning, Thad. 2012. Natural experiments in the social sciences: A design-based approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Erikson, Robert, and Stoker, Laura. 2011. Caught in the draft: The effects of Vietnam draft lottery status on political attitudes. American Political Science Review 105(2): 221–37.
Fienberg, Stephen E. 1971. Randomization and social affairs: The 1970 draft lottery. Science 171(3968): 255–61.
Henderson, John. 2012. Demobilizing a generation: The behavioral effects of the Vietnam draft lottery. Working Paper. http://www.jahenderson.com/research [Accessed July 14, 2014].
Kreuger, Alan B., and Zhu, Pei. 2004. Another look at the New York City school voucher experiment. American Behavioral Scientist 47(5): 658–98.
Sovey, Allison J., and Green, Donald P. 2011. Instrumental variables estimation in political science: A reader's guide. American Journal of Political Science 55(1): 188200.
MathJax
MathJax is a JavaScript display engine for mathematics. For more information see http://www.mathjax.org.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Berinsky and Chatfield supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (98 KB)
98 KB

An Empirical Justification for the Use of Draft Lottery Numbers as a Random Treatment in Political Science Research

  • Adam J. Berinsky (a1) and Sara Chatfield (a2)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.