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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?

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionBound, John, and Sarah E. Turner. 2000. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?" PSC Research Report No. 00-453. September 2000.

The end of World War II brought a flood of returning veterans to America's colleges and universities. Despite widespread rhetoric about the "democratization" of higher education, little research has looked at the question of whether military service, combined with the availability of post-war educational benefits, led World War II veterans to increase their investments in education--particularly at the college or university level. While addressing the effects on military selection of the World War II draft structure and changing military manpower requirements, this paper uses Census data to compare the post-secondary educational attainment of veterans and non-veterans during this era. Findings indicate that the net effects of military service and college funding through the G.I. Bill led to substantial gains in the post-secondary educational attainment of World War II veterans. These effects are comparable to recent estimates of enrollment responses to changes in tuition prices.

Dataset(s): U.S. Census PUMS data, 1979 Survey of Veterans

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