Estimating the Quality of Air Force Volunteers

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Report Number: RM-6360-PR
Author(s): Cook, A. A., Jr., White, J. P.
Corporate Author(s): The RAND Corporation
Date of Publication: 1970-09
Contract: F44620-67-C-0045
DoD Task:
Identifier: AD0713704

This Memorandum describes an analytical model of airmen supply in terms of occupational choice. The model is used to examine the distribution of volunteers in terms of the Armed Forces Qualification Test scores of new airmen over time. By considering the manner in which the Air Force creams the volunteer population to obtain its recruits, the model can be used to explain the variation in the quality of its recruits under different situations. Our findings provide insights into the effects of possible changes in the environment and suggest ways in which the Air Force can maintain its recruit quality if such changes occur. A hypothetical scenario is provided to illustrate how the results can be used. Over time, the Air Force has had more volunteers for recruitment than necessary. Therefore, in filling its quotas it has taken the "best" volunteers, i.e., those with the highest mental scores given physical and moral eligibility. Thus, changes in recruit quality over time reflect changes in the volunteer population, The principal independent variables in the model are (a) net occupational advantage, as measured by the ratio of military to civilian earnings; (b) two draft pressures--(D1) those who have passed their pre-induction physical; (c) the unemployment rate for the relevant age group; and (d) the population eligible for recruitment. In addition, dummy variables are introduced to reflect three different periods when important exogenous occurrences may have had a significant impact on the economic model; namely the Berlin crisis of 1961, the period when draft deferments for marriage were allowed (1963-1965), and the Vietnam War (1965-1967). Also, dummies were introduced to account for seasonal variations in the recruit quotas and the quality of volunteers. The results of ordinary least squares regression analysis indicate that earnings. the second component of draft pressure, the number of Air Force recruits per period, the marriage deferment and the Vietnam dummies, as well as the seasonal dummy for the third calendar quarter, have a statistically significant impact on the quality of new airmen. The relative military to civilian earnings ratio is clearly the most important variable. This is an important finding because it indicates that recruit quality responds to changes in military versus civilian pay; for instance, a 1-percent increase in the net advantages of military service will in duce a 0.52-percent increase in the average quality level of volunteers. The statistical significance of the second component of draft pressure, the ratio of those called for their preinduction physical examination to those in the I-A pool who have not yet been examined, must be interpreted in conjunction with the marriage deferment and Vietnam dummies. Both dummies reflect decreases in recruit quality, apparently through decreases in the size and quality of the available manpower pool for specific levels of the draft variables, with the more qualified young men having an advantage in the competition for student and occupational deferment. The second component of draft pressure indicates that the quality of Air Force recruits will increase as the number of men called for preinduction physicals increases for a pool of given size. Thus, those threatened with the draft seek a preferred solution--Air Force enlistment; and given the creaming of Air Force volunteers, the quality of the recruit force increases, The level of manpower requirements (recruit demand) is negatively correlated with the quality of the recruit force; and the size of the relevant population, although statistically insignificant, is positively correlated with recruit quality. The emphatic negative significance of the demand variable with respect to quality underscores the validity of the creaming process in Air Force recruiting. The significant value for the third calendar quarter dummy reflects the end of the school year and the rapid influx of new high school graduates.

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