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What Factors Affect the Military Enlistment of Hispanic Youth?: A Look at Enlistment Qualifications

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An ongoing concern of Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and the armed services is the social representation of the military, particularly of active duty accessions. Hispanics are a growing segment of the youth population yet have been underrepresented historically among military accessions. The widely cited reason is their below-average rate of graduation from high school and the services’ preference for diploma graduate recruits. But other less-studied factors may contribute. These other possible factors may include lack of language proficiency as reflected in their applicant aptitude test scores, fertility choices, health factors such as obesity, and involvement in risky activities such as the use of illegal drugs. These factors could adversely affect the ability of some Hispanic youth to meet service enlistment standards. The RAND Corporation project “Hispanic Youth in the United States and the Factors Affecting Their Enlistment” is conducting an analysis of the factors that lead to the underrepresentation of Hispanic youth in the military. This documented briefing summarizes interim results from the research effort’s first year. First, it highlights the various enlistments standards recruits must meet in each branch of service. Then using available data on American young adults, it summarizes the degree to which Hispanic youth qualify for service relative to youth who are members of other racial and ethnic groups. This documented briefing is intended for individuals interested in military recruiting and in the population representation of personnel in the armed forces.