Conscription by poverty? Deprivation and army recruitment in the UK

August 2019


This report from the Child Rights International Network, Conscription by poverty? Deprivation and army recruitment in the UK, states that the UK is the only country in Europe to recruit from age 16 and more soldiers are recruited at 16 than any other age.

Teenagers from the poorest areas are targeted despite evidence that enlistment at a young age is detrimental to mental health and social mobility.

According to the report:

  • New research shows that in England from 2013 to 2018, army recruitment of 16- and 17-year-olds was 57% higher in the poorest fifth of constituencies than the richest fifth.(2)
  • Army recruitment marketing is focused on the poorest towns and cities, particularly families with an annual income of around £10,000.(3)
  • Four-fifths of the most deprived young people in England now stay in full-time education after age 16, but marketing for the military encourages them to leave education for the army.(4)
  • A third of recruits who enlist aged under 18 drop out before completing training, leaving them out of education and work.(5)
  • Recruits aged under 18 are sought particularly for the frontline infantry; the army’s riskiest job.
  • The army’s youngest recruits, especially those from deprived backgrounds, are most susceptible to stress-related mental health and behaviour problems associated with military life.(6)

Read more details on the press release

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