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An Analysis of the Marine Corps Selection Process: Does Increased Competition Lead to Increased Quality

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This thesis explores whether increased competition in the selection process of military officers leads to higher-quality officers being chosen. Using the universe of Marine Corps officer applicants from 20092017, I estimate the relationship between the quality of selected officers and the ratio of selected officers to the pool of candidates. I first document that there is significant variation of selection ratios across Officer Candidate Course OCC and Platoon Leaders Course PLC officer selection boards, with most of the variation being across years. I next estimate regression models of the impact of selection ratio on quality, where quality is proxied by Scholastic Assessment Test SAT and Grade Point Average GPA scores. The estimated correlation between selection ratio and quality is negative and significant when including fixed effects for year, component, geographic location, and demographic components. The negative relationship suggests that a lower selection ratio is a signal of a more competitive board, and the board members are able to choose officers of higher academic quality.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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