Mandatory Civil Service and Its Impact on Social Cohesion

Maria Branden , Stockholm University and Linköping University
Siddartha Aradhya, Stockholm University Demography Unit

With increasing diversity in Western societies, ways of fostering social cohesion is high on the political agenda. In this study, we examine whether mandatory civil service can improve social cohesion, by examining how the mandatory military service in Sweden impacts intergroup marriages. We argue that exposure to outgroup members that occurs during military service should decrease intergroup boundaries and increase the likelihood of cross ethnic partnerships. We utilize Swedish population register data including all men born between 1973 and 1979 and follow them until they are 37 when examine the characteristics of their first female partner, measured as opposite-sex marital partner or mother to one’s child, whatever comes first. Our analyses reveal that doing military service has a positive impact on intergroup marriages for first- or second generation immigrant men, with a magnitude of around 10 percentage points for most immigrant groups. No such impact can be found for natives. Given our extensive set of controls, and the robustness of our results across model specifications, we conclude that civil service has the potential to function as a means to social cohesion, thus supporting the intergroup contact hypothesis.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy