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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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