# What % of people have a child in the military?

This question was inspired by Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.

He points out that only one member of Congress has a child in the military.

I was wondering, is the percentage of Congress peoples with children in the military significantly less than the percentage of all Americans with people in the military?

I suppose the question should be what percentage of families, rather than individuals, since people tend to get married and whatnot.

Unscientfic speculation ensuing.

535 (members of congress) / 1 = .0018%

101,041 (number of households in 98 according to US census, yeah old data, but im not going to put to much effort in this post) * .0018% = 181

If I didn’t totally mess up somewhere, that would mean to get the same percentage and congress, we would have to employ 181 soldiers. Obviously that’s not the case.

300,000,000 people and only 100,000 households? That is 3000 people per home.

Lets say roughly 1,000,000 active U.S. Sevicemembers. Assume no siblings.

2000 Census Data
54,493,232 Married couples
12,900,000 Female householders

One servicemember per 54 married couples is about 1 million.

One per 66 households including potentially single moms. These census numbers DO NOT reflect whether or not these households have adult (over 18) children, so the actual retail value will be lower. (For the sake of argument, let’s say 1/2 of couples and single moms have older children).

1 servicemember per 33 possibilities.

In Congress we have 1 servicemember per (probably) 535 possiblities. OK, we can exclude Barney Frank. 534 possibilities.

Well, out of those 535, not all would have children of an appropriate age. But I guess the majority would tend to be married people with kids (voters love that stuff) and would be around 45-65, and thus highly likely to have kids between 20-30.

So maybe half or two thirds of congresscritters would have suitable kids…

From what I have read there are actually closer to 7 or 8 children of congressmen currently in the military. I think the movie was referring to the number with children in Iraq. Since roughly 10% of the military is assigned to Iraq, then you would expect 0.7-0.8 congresschildren in Iraq but numbers are pretty meaningless when they are this small. One person could skew the whole sample.

I know UncleBill is just making a rough estimate but I would like to see some more accurate numbers. It seems you would have to include single dads as well as single moms even if the child lives with the mother. There wouldn’t be as many maybe since there are some serial inseminators out there but I would imagine the number is still significant. There will also be a significant percentage of servicemen with no parents either due to the age of the serviceman or due to more untimely parental deaths. Since we are dealing with congress you would also have to adjust for bastards (but then I repeat myself ) that are known to the congressperson. Even so there is probably a significant proportion of congressperps who don’t have any children (including at least one shown in the movie IIRC).

The other figure that would throw everything one way or the other would be the assumption that 1/2 of households have a child of the correct age for service. This could be much higher or much lower but it would pretty much determine what your outcome would be if you accepted all the other figures. Assuming no siblings would also be a very bad assumption since many families have a tradition of military service.

I think about 30% of congresspeeps have served themselves. At least this is a figure that should be able to be verified. I’m not sure you will ever get a good estimate of the percentage of children serving vs. the general population.

Oh, and don’t count out old Barney. Remember gays can get married now so his SO could certainly have a child even if he doesn’t. Which brings up another interesting question… are we counting only biological children or do stepchildren and adoptees count?

Numbers are taken from a variety of sources, but in each case, I did my best to verify the numbers at the appropriate dot-mil domain:

US Air Force: 374,000
US Army: 1,056,000
US Navy: 524,000
US Marine Corps: 210,000
TOTAL: 2,164,000

These numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand bodies, and are current as of at least 2003 (some more current). Hopefully this will give you a rough starting point to determine how many households have military members.

Remember, though, that some households have more than one military member, and that a kid who is in Iraq is precious not just to his own family, but likely to his extended family – possibly in the dozens of households. I am not related to anyone in Iraq, but I know of at least three close friends who are serving or who have already served a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Oh, and the population of the US is roughly 293,670,000 according to the US Census’ Population Clock website. Given my figures above, that means that roughly 0.74 % of the population (about three people for every four hundred) are serving currently.

If someone could take the census data and make a microcosm of American households out of 400 people, then we’d know roughly what to expect when it comes to Congress. For example, if 400 people are likely to be 40 singles, 20 couples, 18 households of three, 15 households of 4, 10 households of 5, and so on (that’s 229 so far) then we could arbitrarily “draft” members of that population into the military and get an idea of how many Congressmen would be affected.

Does this seem like sound reasoning?

People in Military = 2,164,000 (per Jurph above)
U.S. Households = 105,480,101 (per url=http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2000/phc-1-1-pt1.pdf]2000 Census)
=> Households with Military = 2%

Congress People = 535
=> Expected military (2%) = 11
Actual = 7 or 8 (per Voluable above)

So, Congress isn’t that far off from the norm.

You don’t suppose Mr. Moore is capable of exaggeration, do you?

For clarity, in above, replace “Households with Military = 2%” with “Military members per Household = 2%”

I understood Moore to be saying that only one congressperson had an enlisted child. Not that officers don’t get shot at, of course, but I think for his purposes West Point dosen’t count.