In a recent nationwide study of 18-24 year olds, ThinkNow Research wanted to compare the group’s feelings toward the U.S. military (all branches). Specifically, we wanted to see how Hispanics matched up with non-Hispanics.

When asked if they would ever consider joining one of the military branches, 31% of Hispanics said they would, compared to just 24% for non-Hispanics.

However, drilling down a few layers showed three very interesting dichotomies within the Hispanic population:

  • Gender: 37% of Hispanic men said they would consider the military, compared to just 24% for woman.
  • Geography: Where Hispanics live also seemed to have an impact on their decision to “join up” – from 25% in the Northeast rising to 35% in the West.
  • Income: The armed forces are often cited as a way for low income youths to improve their financial situation. However, among Hispanics, 43% of those with Household incomes greater than $40K per year expressed an interest in joining the military while only 27% of those with incomes less than $40K per year were interested in joining.

Another factor that determined interest in joining the armed forces was acculturation.

interest-in-joining-army-by-acculturation  
It’s noteworthy that interest in serving their country is highest among the least acculturated Hispanics, and interest even among the most acculturated is still higher than non-Hispanics.

ThinkNow Research also wanted to see which branches of the military resonated with the 18-24 year olds. Again, some very interesting results. While several branches rated about the same, two showed pretty sizable differences:

  • 32% of Hispanics picked the Army/National Guard as the branch they would most likely consider… compared to only 25% for non-Hispanics.
  • Conversely, the Air Force was selected by 31% of non-Hispanics, compared to 19% for Hispanics.
  • The Army/National Guard, however, decreases in appeal with age. 39% of 18-20 year olds express an interest in that branch while only 27% of 21-24 year olds would consider it.

Perhaps the data that most left us wanting more answers was a comparison of Hispanic men and women on which of the military branches resonated most with them…

military-branch-preferred-by-hispanic-men-women  
It looks as though Hispanic men prefer to serve their country on dry land, whereas women don’t mind getting wet. The Air Force was the only branch they could agree on.

The bottom line: So, are Hispanics really more patriotic than their non-Hispanic counterparts? Or do 18-24 year old Hispanics see a stint in a branch of the military as a good first step toward a successful life in the U.S.? We’re not sure, but if you recruit for one of the military branches, when targeting Hispanics, the job isn’t so much one of convincing them to join but of harnessing their already positive attitudes and desire to serve.

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