Sunday, March 11, 2012

Increasing confidence in military's ability to meet, kill exotic people?

++Addition++Steve Sailer comments.


Steve Sailer comments on an article in YNet News about how "Israeli youth" (defined as those under the age of 30) are shifting politically to the right, specifically in their desire to join IDF combat units:
Although much of this is driven by the huge, subsidized fertility of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel, I suspect it reflects global trends, which in other countries tend to be masked by growing demographic diversity.
The GSS allows us to check the racial composition issue, but not mate it. Until the year 2000, the survey only broke racial classifications into three categories (white, black, other), so "white" includes Hispanics who considered themselves white rather than choosing the flattering "other" category. The following table shows the average conservatism score (on a 7 point scale, with 1 being "extremely liberal" and 7 being "extremely conservative") of whites aged 18-29 by half decade:

Late 70s3.63
Early 80s3.93
Late 80s4.01
Early 90s4.03
Late 90s3.93
Early 00s3.94
Late 00s3.98

From the eighties onward, it's pretty much been steady as she goes for the youth cohort, with the median settling almost exactly at the moderate (4) position.

However, there are a lot of things tied up in the labels "liberal" and "conservative" in the US that don't necessarily fit neatly into the question of whether or not an increase in authoritarianism has occurred among young people. The following table shows the percentages of whites (as previously defined) aged 18-29 who expressed "a great deal of confidence" in the US military, again by half decade:

Late 70s35.3%
Early 80s29.1%
Late 80s37.6%
Early 90s50.8%
Late 90s42.9%
Early 00s54.6%
Late 00s57.0%

Over the last decade, despite the dragged out wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, high levels of confidence in the US military among teenagers and young adults has been the norm, a noticeable departure from decades past.

While it's necessary to point out that confidence in the military has risen among all respondents over the same period of time, the rise among the young has been steeper. In the seventies and into the eighties, confidence in the military was lower among young whites than it was among the population as a whole, but by the nineties this had clearly reversed, with young whites expressing greater confidence in the military than the rest of the population does, and it has remained that way ever since.

Steve's insight isn't just domestic, though. The WVS potentially offers some insight into the question at the international level as well. I'll tap it next in an attempt to keep up with his ambitious mind.

GSS variables used: CONARMY(1)(2-3), AGE(18-29), RACE(1), POLVIEWS, YEAR(1974-1979)(1980-1984)(1985-1989)(1990-1994)(1995-1999)(2000-2004)(2005-2010)


IHTG said...

Perhaps it's a relative thing. The military just looks damn good (superficially at least) compared to all the other bodies of government, nowadays.
Those generals, they speak with low voices and seem to know what they're doing.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

The farther we get from Vietnam, the less youngsters' opinions of the military will be colored by that largely negative event. Today's youth have no recollection whatsoever of Vietnam and the so-called "peace" movement associated with it.

John said...

Ed Tom Kowalsky makes a good point about Vietnam. I think that the trust in the military was probably at a historic low in the 60s and early 70s, and the rising numbers are simply indicating a recovery.

However, it is also important to ask why the views of the Vietnam war were so negative as compared to now. The constant drumbeat from the MSM had been that Iraq and Afghanistan were hopeless quagmires that were unwinnable, but now there are alternative outlets where other views could be heard. When Cronkite was lying to the American people saying that we had lost the Tet Offensive and that the Vietnam war was unwinnable, everybody believed him because there was no alternative voice. That didn't happen with Iraq. Of course, we also had different political leadership.

Ironically, Afghanistan (the "good" war least opposed by the left) is the war going the most badly, whereas we did win in Iraq and clearly had the ability to win in Vietnam.

Audacious Epigone said...

Yeah, it's almost impossible to imagine a reception for US military personnel returning from Afghanistan receiving the sort of abuse that they did after Vietnam. This Budweiser ad from a few Superbowls back is much more representative of contemporary public sentiment towards the armed forces.

Noah172 said...

A few points, from an Iraq vet:

There was conscription during the Vietnam days. That creates tension. It is easy to admire and idealize the military as an institution when only a small sliver of the population volunteers to serve, or is closely related to those who serve.

There has been no tax increase (indeed, tax cuts) to pay for the conflicts of the last decade. I think that people might resent the military more if they felt it taking a(n even bigger) bite of their paychecks.

The military is more expensive, but smaller and less widely dispersed, than in the 60s (fewer troops, fewer bases). Out of sight, out of mind.

Steve Sailer said...

There was a drift down in sentiment in the late 1990s compared to the early 1990s, which seems natural. The military performed very well in the first Gulf War, so its reputation was high for half a decade, then nothing much happened and there was some regression. In contrast, the late 2000s are a new high point ever. That might suggest a secular trend driven less by particular events like a war or 9/11 than by some sort of underlying attitudinal change.