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Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?

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  • John Bound
  • Sarah E. Turner

Abstract

The end of World War II brought a flood of returning veterans to America's colleges and universities. Yet, despite widespread rhetoric about the democratization' of higher education that came with this large pool of students, there is little evidence about the question of whether military service, combined with the availability of post-war educational benefits, led these men to increase their investments in education - particularly at the college and university level. This paper uses the structure of the draft during the World War II period and the changing manpower requirements in the armed forces to address the effects of selection in comparisons of the educational attainment of veterans and nonveterans in this era. Using census data, our results indicate that the net effects of military service and the widely available funding for college through the G.I. Bill led to a moderate gain in the postsecondary educational attainment of World War II veterans.

Suggested Citation

  • John Bound & Sarah E. Turner, 1999. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," NBER Working Papers 7452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7452
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-336, June.
    3. Thomas Lemieux & David Card, 2001. "Education, earnings, and the "Canadian G.I. Bill"," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 313-344, May.
    4. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
    5. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    6. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    7. Angrist, Joshua D., 1991. "Grouped-data estimation and testing in simple labor-supply models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 243-266, February.
    8. Joshua D. Angrist, 1990. "The Effect of Veterans Benefits on Veterans' Education and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 3492, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    10. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    11. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-1286, December.
    13. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
    14. Kane, Thomas J, 1994. "College Entry by Blacks since 1970: The Role of College Costs, Family Background, and the Returns to Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 878-911, October.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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