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The Long-Term Impact of Military Service on Health: Evidence from World War II and Korean War Veterans

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  • Kelly Bedard
  • Olivier Deschênes

Abstract

During the World War II and Korean War era, the U.S. military freely distributed cigarettes to overseas personnel and provided low-cost tobacco products on domestic military bases. In fact, even today the military continues to sell subsidized tobacco products on its bases. Using a variety of instrumental variables approaches to deal with nonrandom selection into the military and into smoking, we provide substantial evidence that cohorts with higher military participation rates subsequently suffered more premature mortality. More importantly, we show that a large fraction, 35 to 79 percent, of the excess veteran deaths due to heart disease and lung cancer are attributable to military-induced smoking.

Suggested Citation

  • Kelly Bedard & Olivier Deschênes, 2006. "The Long-Term Impact of Military Service on Health: Evidence from World War II and Korean War Veterans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 176-194, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:1:p:176-194
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282806776157731
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2002. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 784-815, October.
    2. Angrist, Joshua & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Why Do World War II Veterans Earn More Than Nonveterans?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(1), pages 74-97, January.
    3. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
    4. Deaton, Angus S & Paxson, Christina H, 1998. "Aging and Inequality in Income and Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 248-253, May.
    5. Robert W. Fogel, 2003. "Changes in the Process of Aging During the Twentieth Century: Findings and Procedures of the Early Indicators Project," NBER Working Papers 9941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Thomas Lemieux & David Card, 2001. "Going to College to Avoid the Draft: The Unintended Legacy of the Vietnam War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 97-102, May.
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