It could be you! military conscription and selection bias in rural Honduras

S. Cameron, G. Dorling, Andy Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The declining role of the armed forces in civil society within Latin America has been paralleled by the emergence of structural adjustment programmes oriented to resolving problems of internal and external balance through the application of a cocktail of trade reforms, deregulation and expenditure cuts. Defence expenditures have not been exempted from this budget-driven downsizing (Franko 1994), despite military attempts to stress the importance of basing defence expenditures on demand, whether to combat an external threat or to curb the prospect of rising domestic delinquency. Dix (1994:448) has nevertheless highlighted the fact that Latin American generals are begrudgingly accepting the arguments for military restructuring on condition that investigation into past human rights violations are either toned down or halted. These self-same tensions have emerged in Honduras as the transition towards civilian control has gathered pace (Ruhl 1996:37ff). In the not so distant past (1996), almost three-quarters of the Honduran armed forces’ manpower were composed of conscripted recruits (ISS 1996). However, although military manpower requirements can be fulfilled through voluntary induction or conscription, research on contemporary conscription procedures relates exclusively to recruitment processes in either the US or Europe (Friedman 1982; Angrist 1989, 1990; Dewey 1984; Mellors and McKean 1984). Yet in Honduras and many other Third World economies enforced military recruitment has been a key occupational hazard for males within the requisite age-bracket. This paper helps to redress the anomaly, deploying survey data from Honduras so as to examine the historic likelihood of being forcibly inducted into the country’s armed forces. In particular it postulates that certain societal groupings – defined by economic orientation, political allegiance and department of residence – were more likely to be drafted than others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-63
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Issue number68
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000

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