This paper uses the case of military service to test the premise of the social contact theory-- that minority-majority social contact will lead to higher levels of racial tolerance and integration (Allport 1954, Robinson and Preston 1976; Sigelman and Welch 2001). As the only large-scale institution in which African Americans are over-represented and in which blacks and whites come into frequent and prolonged contact with one another, the military may be one of the most well situated US environments in which to test social contact theory. In this paper we ask whether there are long term implications for race relations resulting from military service. Using restricted data from the fourth follow-up to NELS, this paper is the first to examine whether white veterans are more likely than white civilians to reside in racially integrated neighborhoods. We find that controlling for a variety of individual, household, and metropolitan level factors, prior military service is associated with residence in neighborhoods with fewer non-Hispanic whites and greater overall diversity.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jennifer_lundquist/38/