Monday, June 20, 2011

Using an original data set matching individual birthdays to Vietnam War draft lottery numbers, I study how the random lottery number assignment affects representation in a sample of top corporate executives decades after the war's end. I find that men with lottery numbers placing them at risk of induction are underrepresented among top U.S. executives in the 1990s. In contrast, I find that high draft risk is positively correlated with indicators of human capital such as earnings and speed of reaching the executive ranks. If the executives are viewed as the winners of a multistage elimination tournament that selected on productivity, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that draft risk led to a mean-reducing spread in the productivity distribution of draft-eligible males.