Military Service and (Dis)Continuity in the Life Course: Evidence on Disadvantage and Mortality from the HRS and Ahead

Andrew S. London, Syracuse University
Janet Wilmoth, Syracuse University

This study uses a life course framework and data from the HRS/AHEAD to examine three hypotheses related to (dis)continuity in the effects of early life disadvantage (African American race and low paternal education) and military service on later-life mortality. Specifically, we consider whether military service (and the age of enlistment) mediates or moderates the effects of early life disadvantage on later-life mortality and whether mid- to late-life socioeconomic status, health status, and health behaviors mediate the effects of military service on mortality. We find very little evidence to support the notion that there are any mortality benefits that accrue to men as a consequence of military service overall or enlistment at any particularage. Most of the evidence is consistent with life course disruption and continuity of disadvantage interpretations.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Aging, Life Course, Health, Mortality, and Health Care