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The Effect of Stress on Later-Life Health: Evidence from the Vietnam Draft

Author

Listed:
  • John Cawley
  • Damien de Walque
  • Daniel Grossman

Abstract

A substantial literature has examined the impact of stress during early childhood on later-life health. This paper contributes to that literature by examining the later-life health impact of stress during adolescence and early adulthood, using a novel proxy for stress: risk of military induction during the Vietnam War. We estimate that a 10 percentage point (2 standard deviation) increase in induction risk in young adulthood is associated with a 1.5 percentage point (8%) increase in the probability of being obese and a 1 percentage point (10%) increase in the probability of being in fair or poor health later in life. This does not appear to be due to cohort effects; these associations exist only for men who did not serve in the war, and are not present for women or men who did serve. These findings add to the evidence on the lasting consequences of stress, and also indicate that induction risk during Vietnam may, in certain contexts, be an invalid instrument for education or marriage because it appears to have a direct impact on health.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cawley & Damien de Walque & Daniel Grossman, 2017. "The Effect of Stress on Later-Life Health: Evidence from the Vietnam Draft," NBER Working Papers 23334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23334 Note: AG CH HC HE PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jason M. Lindo & Charles Stoecker, 2014. "Drawn Into Violence: Evidence On “What Makes A Criminal” From The Vietnam Draft Lotteries," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 239-258, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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