When society enters a period of war, the rules change for those who serve. When society is at war, rules of behavior that were formerly condemned as criminal and unacceptable are sought after and praised. But when war ends, returning to everyday civil life is not easy as war time behavior and ethics are difficult to shed for many people, especially those closest to the conflict.

Further Resources

“Relationship Between War and Crime in the United States” by Betty B. Rosenbaum, The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1940)

This journal article discusses the broad implications of the effects of war on human conduct and society as a whole. Read the full article.

“Drawn into Violence: Evidence on ‘What Makes a Criminal’ from the Vietnam Draft Lotteries” by Jason M. Lindo and Charles F. Stoecker, National Bureau of Economic Research (2012)

Abstract: Draft lottery number assignment during the Vietnam Era provides a natural experiment to examine the effects of military service on crime. Using exact dates of birth for inmates in state and federal prisons in 1979, 1986, and 1991, we find that draft eligibility increases incarceration for violent crimes but decreases incarceration for non-violent crimes among whites. This is particularly evident in 1979, where two-sample instrumental variable estimates indicate that military service increases the probability of incarceration for a violent crime by 0.34 percentage points and decreases the probability of incarceration for a nonviolent crime by 0.30 percentage points. We conduct two falsification tests, one that applies each of the three binding lotteries to unaffected cohorts and another that considers the effects of lotteries that were not used to draft servicemen. Read the full paper.