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Chapter 8:


Table 8.1 shows the percentage of Advertising Tracking Study respondents with positive propensity for military service before and after the September 11th attack, as a function of age and gender. The overall total indicates that propensity was essentially unchanged, with the same proportion of respondents indicating that they would probably or definitely serve in the military before as after September 2001 (19 percent). The high level of propensity (23 percent) for the month of September 2001 may indicate a short-lived increase, but should be interpreted with caution because of the small sample of respondents for that single month. A Defense Department spokesperson noted, "[w]hile we experienced an approximate doubling in the number of people expressing interest in the [A]rmed [F]orces in the wake of 9-11, that did not later translate into any marked increase in enlistment."[Footnote 3] It isn't possible to determine completely any effects of the attacks of September 11th on enlistment, as there are many external factors that have the potential to affect interest and enlistment in the military (e.g., unemployment rates, college aspirations and enrollment, national economy, foreign policy).

Table 8.1. Propensity for Military Service by Gender, Age Group, and Time Period

Time Period

Mar-May 2000
Jun-Aug 2001
Sep 2001
Oct-Dec 2001
Jan-Mar 2002



Age Group


Source: Data provided by DMDC from the Advertising Tracking Study, March 4, 2001 - March 23, 2002.

The data in Table 8.1 indicate propensity for military enlistment was substantially higher for males (25 percent) than for females (13 percent), a result that is consistent with previous surveys. After a substantial spike in September 2001, male propensity was slightly higher in the months after that date than in the months before. However, it is not possible to rule out sampling error as the cause of these changes.

Similar results are found in the Youth Poll data.[Footnote 4]  Propensity to join the military tended to increase for males 16- to 21-years-old, from 25 and 21 percent in March and July 2001, respectively, to 32 percent in October 2001. During the same time period, propensity of women generally remained stable, with a slight decrease following the September 11th incidents. Propensity for women in the 16- to 21-year age range decreased from 14 percent to 12 percent between July and October 2001.

Overall, respondents in the Advertising Tracking Study indicated that the events at the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon had a positive effect on their inclinations toward military service. Figure 8.1 shows the percentage of respondents who indicated that the events had either no effect or a positive effect on the chances that they would enlist, as a function of gender and time period. Nearly one-half of those surveyed (49 percent) indicated that the events increased the likelihood that they would consider enlisting for military service, while less than one-third (32 percent) said that the events decreased the likelihood that they would serve. The figure shows that males indicated a substantially more positive effect on enlistment likelihood than did females. The 59 percent average effect for females includes 39 percent who indicated a positive effect on enlistment and approximately 19 percent who indicated no effect. The remaining 41 percent of the female respondents indicated a negative effect. Thus, females were evenly divided between positive and negative effects, while the effect for males was predominantly positive, in agreement with the increased propensity for military enlistment. As Figure 8.1 shows, there was no variation in positive or neutral effects of the September 11th attacks on military propensity over time.

Figure 8.1.  Positive or neutral effects of September 11th attacks on military propensity, by gender.
Figure 8.1.  Positive or neutral effects of September 11th attacks on military propensity, by gender.

[Footnote 3]  Solis, D., "Uncle Sam Wants You, And You, And You...," Dallas Morning News, October 10, 2002. [back to paragraph]

[Footnote 4]  Defense Manpower Data Center. Youth Attitudes Toward the Military: Recent Findings. Briefing for Force Management Policy, Deputy Chief of Staff of Personnel, Manpower and Reserve Affairs Meeting, February, 19, 2002. [back to paragraph]


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