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College Education and the Midcentury GI Bills


  • Marcus Stanley


The midcentury GI bills were the largest direct scholarship program for higher education in American history. I use a comparison group created by the sharp cutoff date of the Korean War GI bill to evaluate the effects of the Korean War GI bill on postsecondary educational attainment and access to college by the disadvantaged. I then bound the likely effects of the World War II GI bill based on elasticities estimated for the Korean War GI bill and new estimates using older veterans as a comparison group for younger ones. I find that the combination of the Korean War and WWII GI bills probably increased total postsecondary attainment among all men born between 1921 and 1933 by about 15 to 20 percent, with smaller effects for surrounding cohorts. The impacts of both programs on college attainment were apparently concentrated among veterans from families in the upper half of the distribution of socioeconomic status.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcus Stanley, 2003. "College Education and the Midcentury GI Bills," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 671-708.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:2:p:671-708.

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