The 1969 Vietnam draft lottery assigned numbers to birth dates in order to determine which young men would be called to fight in Vietnam. We exploit this natural experiment to examine how draft vulnerability influenced political attitudes. Data are from the Political Socialization Panel Study, which surveyed high school seniors from the class of 1965 before and after the national draft lottery was instituted. Males holding low lottery numbers became more antiwar, more liberal, and more Democratic in their voting compared to those whose high numbers protected them from the draft. They were also more likely than those with safe numbers to abandon the party identification that they had held as teenagers. Trace effects are found in reinterviews from the 1990s. Draft number effects exceed those for preadult party identification and are not mediated by military service. The results show how profoundly political attitudes can be transformed when public policies directly affect citizens' lives.
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