Memorial Day is a good day to look at military data, and it happens to be an opportunity to echo Razib's call to mend, not end, the American Community Survey. The survey asked respondents their ancestry, and if they are now serving or ever served in the military. I limited the sample to native-born Americans and to people ages 20 to 39 in order to focus on a single cohort. I list the percentages who answered yes by their ancestry (sample size = 1.74 million) and since there are as many categories as countries in the world I only list groups with the highest and lowest numbers. The mediocre middle is left out.
Percent serving in the military now or in the past
South African 12.3
Germans from Russia 11.4
West Indian 9.9
Dutch West Indies 8.7
Pacific Islander 8.6
Scots Irish 8.1
Asian Indian 1.9
It's great that Prussians come out on top, but I suspect that some military folks are being selective in which part of their ancestry they identify with. The high-serving groups are an interesting assortment. Using GSS data, I reported in an earlier post that West Indians like Colin Powell are more likely to serve than most groups. Pacific Islanders have high numbers as do your well-known tough guys: the Scots Irish and Sicilians.
On the low end, you have Asians and Middle-Easterners. It looks like Muslims (and Israelis for that matter) don't like to serve, but does anyone know the religion of most American Indonesians? Are they Muslims?
Also--Mexican-Americans, contrary to the claims of some, do not serve in high numbers. Between 4.4 and 5.3 percent serve or have served (depending on whether you focus on the "Mexican" or "Mexican-American" category). That's below the national average of 6.3 percent.