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Social Trends and Social Change in the United States: Impacts on Army Manpower; Personnel and Operations

Faculty Associate David Segal oversees research into the impact of social change on the military

This research, funded by the U.S. Army Research Institute, builds upon work that Dr. Segal and his associates have done over the past 15 years. It examines quantitative and textual data on social trends and social changes in America and their impact on the Army. The data, interpreted in the context of sociological theory, reflect changes in the demographics of the American population, labor force, and armed forces; the ways in which work organizations and professions have changed in America and how these changes affect the armed forces; changes in the domestic and international environments, and particularly in the nature of unconventional conflicts, impact on the ways in which we organize military forces and fight wars; and the effects that technological changes have had on our military operations. The data are drawn from Federal surveys, such as the Census, academic surveys such as the Monitoring the Future project at the University of Michigan, military surveys going back to World War II that have been archived, and surveys that Dr. Segal and his colleagues have conducted in recent years.

During the last decade, Dr. Segal and his colleagues in the Center for Research on Military Organization have received three contracts from the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, each in excess of one million dollars, to study Social and Cultural Dynamics of American Military Organization (1995-2000), Social Structures Affecting Army Performance (2000-2004), and Social Structure, Social Systems, and Social Networks (2004-2008).

Dr. Segal has been focusing increasingly on the demography of the military and its ramifications on civilian labor force statistics. Since the uniformed military is the largest single employer in the country, particularly for male African-American high school graduates, this has led to errors in estimating Black-White differential in unemployment and in earnings in the civilian sector. While several authors have suggested that the gap between black male earnings and white male earnings has been affected by low income black men being differentially removed from labor force statistics because of increased incarceration rates, Segal new work concentrates on an offsetting affect. Since the volunteer army was adopted, black men make up an increasing fraction of the armed services. Since soldiers must be high school graduates and display competency of standardized tests, Segal argues that the increase in black men in the military has lowered (not raised) the average ability of the black civilian labor force, relative to white men. His preliminary results show that part of the increasing wage gap of black vs. white men over the 1980s was due to the differential change in the composition of the white and black civilian labor force.

See David Segal's profile