Saturday, May 29, 2010

Militarily fit-to-serve by state (round 2)

Last weekend, I created a "fit-to-serve" index by state. As I was constructing it, it felt like too much emphasis was being put on the percentage of each state's population on parole, on probation, in jail, or in prison. So I went back and reworked the numbers in to create a more straightforward, less arbitrary way of measuring eligibility by state--I simply added the totals of the three inhibiting factors together and then subtracted that sum from 100 to get the percentage of each state's young adult population that is deemed potentially fit-to-serve in the military*:

StateEligible %
1. Vermont59.8
2. Minnesota59.2
3. Wisconsin57.4
4. Iowa57.1
5. North Dakota55.4
6. Connecticut53.0
7. Montana52.7
8. Utah52.4
9. New Hampshire51.9
10. South Dakota51.5
11. New Jersey50.1
12. Pennsylvania49.4
13. Maine48.8
14. Missouri48.2
15. Oregon48.0
16. Wyoming47.4
17. Maryland47.3
18. Massachusetts46.8
19. Nebraska46.7
20. Colorado46.6
21. Idaho46.4
22. Kansas46.1
23. Oklahoma45.6
24. Rhode Island44.2
25. Hawaii42.9
26. Michigan42.3
27. Ohio42.0
28. Virginia41.8
29. Washington41.7
30. Illinois41.4
31. West Virginia40.5
32. Indiana40.2
33. California37.2
34. Kentucky36.1
35. Arizona36.0
36. Texas35.5
37. Delaware35.2
38. New York34.1
39. Tennessee33.5
40. Arkansas32.6
41. North Carolina32.4
42. Alaska32.2
43. Florida28.8
44. Alabama27.9
45. New Mexico23.1
46. South Carolina22.4
47. Louisiana21.2
48. Georgia19.3
49. Mississippi17.4
50. Nevada15.9
51. District of Columbia15.2

What immediately jumps out is how white (and geographically concentrated in the upper Midwest and Northeast) the states with high eligibility are compared to those with more modestly sized eligible populations. The correlation between the percentage of a state's population that is white and the percentage of the young adult population deemed eligible for military service is .67 (p = 0).

So much for the idea of granting citizenship to immigrants upon some set duration of military service--unless they are among the sliver of newcomers hailing from Europe, they won't be able to get in! Because far less than 1% of the adult population is actually serving in the military at any given time, to assert that the perpetual decrease in the proportion of the country's population that is white will make it difficult for the military to find potentially eligible recruits actually isn't justified (though being able to find willingly eligible recruits is a separate issue).

The report's public authors, a cadre of retired military officers, do not mention the demographic angle (nor should they, as it is of course irrelevant!). They do emphasize the putative benefit of early education in reducing criminality and increasing the likelihood of on-time graduation throughout, though--in fact, the report is subtitled "Early Education across America is Needed to Ensure National Security"!

Then, without any apparent sense of self-defeat, the report's appendix includes a table showing the percentages of each state's 4-year-old populations enrolled in pre-kindergarten schooling. This measure inversely correlates with latent graduation rates at a statistically insignificant .09 (p = .53) and probation or incarceration rates at a similarly statistically insignificant .06 (p = .69). That is, early education is not associated with desirable social outcomes like on-time high school graduation and steering clear of the law at the state level, despite the praise heaped upon early education and its supposed long-term benefits.

In the comment thread of the previous post, Silly Girl, perspicaciously detecting the lack of any relationship just by eye-balling the table, remarked:
Ugh, page after page of that report trumpeting the benefits of pre k education, then on page 7 the charts of pre k ed. and graduation rates showing no relationship to graduating based on going to free public pre k. Do they think people can't read and think? Okay, dumb question. Do they think no one, even the more educated folks who likely would read it, would question it?
Kurt9 didn't see anything intentionally furtive going on:
People in bureaucracies don't think, period. Its not that they thought they could slip this report past readers without them reading it critically. Its that they did not even think about this at all.
Whatever the explanation, it is, in the literal sense of the word, ridiculous.

Parenthetically, reassuring me that this method is superior to the index I previously created, the correlation between estimated average IQ and the percentage of the young adult population deemed eligible for military service is .78 (p=0) (IQ correlated with my "fit-to-serve" index at .54); as always, desirable social outcomes and intelligence go hand-in-hand.

* This method assumes no overlap among the three inhibiting factors, even though there likely is a significant amount of it--I suspect failing to graduate from high school on time, being overweight, and scuffling with the law all correlate positively with one another. But I see little reason to suspect the amount of overlap varies significantly by state--that they are likely correlated (the report from which the data come does not attempt to tease out what the true percentage of each state's population deemed eligible for service actually is) means the table above inflates the percentages of state populations deemed ineligible for military service, but in a systematic way that doesn't materially effect some states more than others.


A. said...

Somewhat off-topic, but wouldn't it benefit the military to raise salaries and benefits in return for raising AFQT (i.e. IQ) standards? When you're already spending $1 mil per soldier in Afghanistan per year already (acc. to Congressional Research Services), adding ten or twenty grand to annual salaries is a pittance, and might well be worth a 15 percentile increase in minimum scores - Or pay more to smart recruits. This simple computation makes me believe we blow way too much cash on technology, and not enough on getting smart recruits.

A 10k increase for every active duty member costs $15 bil, about 2% of the defense budget.

It would make the military more prestigious which itself might attract smarter people, especially at the officer level.

See this Slate article for how smarter recruits make better soldiers:

Anonymous said...

Hey, A.

If they are going to do that, give the smartest ones (IQ 115+) an extra $15k tax free for each kid they have, too. We don't just want to pay smart people to die.

Audacious Epigone said...


Thanks for the article link. I remember reading it a few years ago but had forgotten how effectively terse it was.

Steve Sailer said...

Here's a challenge: find a measure of some broad social positive where Minnesota doesn't fall in the top ten states.

Mil-Tech Bard said...

>find a measure of some broad
>social positive where Minnesota
>doesn't fall in the top ten

Try "fertility."

Anonymous said...

7 of last 10 former CSA states