An analysis of the Marine Corps selection process: does increased competition lead to increased quality?
Sandberg, Eric A.
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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 2009-2017, 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 a more competitive board, and the board members are able to choose officers of higher academic quality.
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