Conscription, also known as a military draft, is the government's power to compel citizens to participate in military service. Although conscription has been widespread throughout history, few major world powers have compulsory military drafts today. Talk of reinstating the military draft is not uncommon, but many disadvantages to military drafts exist.

Violating Freedom

Many people believe that a compulsory draft violates one's personal freedom. Although some proponents of conscription claim that anyone living in a society owes the society his liberty, and he should therefore be obliged to fight to preserve it. Opponents argue that conscription forces you to give up that liberty.

Encouraging Unpopular Wars

Opponents of conscription argue that a compulsory military draft encourages unpopular wars. There are many volunteers for wars backed by public support, but unpopular wars sometimes require a military draft. Opponents of the draft contend that conscription enables rulers to fight wars more often and more carelessly.

Wasteful Avoidance Behavior

Conscription also leads to behaviors intended to prevent oneself from becoming drafted, including emigration, unwanted schooling, or marriage. These choices are economically inefficient and may cause greater problems in the long run.

Forced Soldiers Fight Poorly

Forcing people to join the military against their will may compromise the strength and morale of the fighting force. For example, people who do not want to fight are unlikely to be very motivated, whereas volunteer armies are far more likely to be patriotic and motivated. Moreover, citizens who may have been very patriotic may become disillusioned with their country after being forced to participate in a war.

Conscription Isn't Equal

Opponents of conscription also point out that it isn't a fair process. Although conscription may initially seem more fair than volunteer armies, which are often composed mostly of middle- or lower-class citizens who need jobs, conscription doesn't affect everyone equally. With a draft in place, the military could pay lower wages than would be required to recruit a volunteer force of equal size and skill, according to the Library of Economics and Liberty. In addition, privileged citizens have far more opportunities to escape conscription, such as through higher education or emigration, and drafted citizens within armies may also be arranged in a hierarchical manner. Moreover, women usually are not required to register for the military draft, which may seem unfair to many.