The Casualty Gap: The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities

Overview

The Casualty Gap shows how the most important cost of American military campaigns—the loss of human life—has been paid disproportionately by poorer and less-educated communities since the 1950s. Drawing on a rich array of evidence, including National Archives data on the hometowns of more than 400,000 American soldiers killed in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, this book is the most ambitious inquiry to date into the distribution of American wartime casualties across the nation, the forces causing such ...

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The Casualty Gap: The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities

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Overview

The Casualty Gap shows how the most important cost of American military campaigns—the loss of human life—has been paid disproportionately by poorer and less-educated communities since the 1950s. Drawing on a rich array of evidence, including National Archives data on the hometowns of more than 400,000 American soldiers killed in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, this book is the most ambitious inquiry to date into the distribution of American wartime casualties across the nation, the forces causing such inequalities to emerge, and their consequences for politics and democratic governance.

Although the most immediate costs of military sacrifice are borne by service members and their families, The Casualty Gap traces how wartime deaths also affect entire communities. Americans who see the high price war exacts on friends and neighbors are more likely to oppose a war and its leaders than residents of low-casualty communities. Moreover, extensive empirical evidence connects higher community casualty rates in Korea and Vietnam to lower levels of trust in government, interest in politics, and electoral and non-electoral participation. A series of original survey experiments finds that Americans informed of the casualty gap's existence will accept substantially fewer casualties that those who are not told about inequality in sacrifice.

By presenting a wealth of evidence and analysis, this book seeks both to bolster public awareness of casualty inequalities and to spur critical dialogue about the nation's policy response. The Casualty Gap should be read by all who care about the future of America's military and the effects of war on society and democracy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Commendable."—The Nation

"The Casualty Gap's thoughtful analyses and arguments not only break down the larger statistical picture, but reveal how single communities respond to news of their own soldiers dying. Most disturbing is the clear pattern of civic and political disengagement in communities bearing the greatest sacrifices and most in need of increasingly unpopular government assistance."—Michigan War Studies Review

"An important book...Shen and Kriner are especially innovative in using multiple sources of evidence and methods to connect participation in recent wards to political participation at home. Summing Up: Recommended."—CHOICE

"Provocative and intriguing."—John Mueller, Professor of Political Science, The Ohio State University, and author of Atomic Obsession

"This inventive and deeply troubling book teaches that our volunteer military allocates the ultimate costs of war very unevenly, raising fundamental questions about distributive justice. Importantly, it also chronicles the effects of exposure to these costs, and isolation from them, on mass opinion, trust in government, and levels of political engagement, thus offering a significant contribution to understanding vexing trends in mass attitudes and political behavior."—Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University, and former president of the American Political Science Association

"Deep into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. national media is devoting increasing amounts of coverage to the variable costs of war. It is a rare piece of scholarship that tackles a highly politicized issue—this one, in fact, sizzles—but remains balances, fair, and informative. this book is just loaded with fresh empirical insights. For the comprehensiveness of its data and the variety of its empirical resesarch methods, Kriner and Shen's book will quickly establish itself as the leading academic treatment of the topic."—William G. Howell, Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics, University of Chicago

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195390964
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas L. Kriner is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston University.

Francis X. Shen is Fellow, MacArthur Foundation Law & Neuroscience Project.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The Casualty Gap 3

The Politics of Casualties 7

Plan of the Book 10

Ch. 2 Inequality and U.S. Casualties from WWII to Iraq 14

Studying Casualties and Inequality 16

Defining and Measuring the Casualty Gap 17

Explaining the Casualty Gap 22

Assessing the Casualty Gap across Four Wars 26

The Individual-Level Casualty Gap and the Problem of Ecological Inference 40

Explaining the Casualty Gap 47

Technical Appendix to Chapter 2 48

Ch. 3 Selection, Occupational Assignment, and the Emergence of the Casualty Gap 56

Mechanism #1: Selection in the Modern Wars 58

Mechanism #2: Occupational Assignment within the Military 67

The Selection Mechanism Revisited: The Role of the Draft 73

Casualty Gaps at the Individual Level 80

Technical Appendix to Chapter 3 83

Ch. 4 Do Casualty Gaps Matter? 92

The Casualty Gap and Public Support for War 94

The Casualty Gap's Influence in 2009 100

Bringing the Casualty Gap into the Public Sphere 103

Technical Appendix to Chapter 4 104

Ch. 5 How Local Casualties Shape Politics 109

Ch. 6 Political Ramifications of the Vietnam Casualty Gap 131

Casualties, Public Opinion, and the Vietnam War 133

Local Casualty Rates and Support for the Vietnam War 136

Results and Discussion 138

The Electoral Consequences of Local Casualties 146

Modeling Vote Choice 147

Results and Discussion 148

The Casualty Gap and the Democratic Brake on Military Adventurism 153

Technical Appendix to Chapter 6 155

Ch. 7 Political Ramifications of the Iraq Casualty Gap 161

Iraq, Casualties, and Public Opinion 163

Iraq, Casualties, and Electoral Dynamics 170

Conclusion 181

Technical Appendix to Chapter 7 183

Ch. 8 The Casualty Gap and Civic Engagement 191

War and American Political and Civic Engagement 193

The Immediate Effects of Vietnam on Political Participation 197

The Lingering Effects of Vietnam on Civic Engagement 203

Korea, World War II, and Patterns of Political Engagement 206

Conclusion 211

Technical Appendix to Chapter 8 213

Ch. 9 The Future of the Casualty Gap 226

Responding to the Casualty Gap 231

Facing up to the Casualty Gap 234

Notes 235

References 277

Index 295

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