DP16718 Discrimination and State Capacity: Evidence from WWII U.S. Army Enlistment

Author(s): Nancy Qian, Marco Tabellini
Publication Date: January 2022
Date Revised: January 2022
Keyword(s): institutions, state capacity, war
JEL(s): D72, J15, N92, P16
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics, Economic History, Macroeconomics and Growth, Political Economy
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16718

This paper investigates the empirical relationship between inclusion and state capacity, as theorized by Besley and Persson (2009). We examine the impact of racial discrimination on Black U.S. military enlistment during the onset of WWII. We find that discrimination had a large and negative effect on volunteer enlistment after the Pearl Harbor attack. The result is robust to a large number of controls that account for potential confounders. The negative effect of discrimination is moderated by geographical proximity to Pearl Harbor, and is larger for educated men. We provide consistent evidence for Japanese Americans.