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War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI Bill

APA Citation:

Larsen, M. F., McCarthy, T. J., Moulton, J. G., Page, M. E., & Patel, A. J. (2015). War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI Bill. Demography, 52(5), 1431–1461. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-015-0426-x



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study
Cross-Sectional Study
Secondary Analysis


Larsen, Matthew F., McCarthy, T. J., Moulton, Jeremy G., Page, Marianne E., Patel, Ankur J.


World War II and its subsequent GI Bill have been widely credited with playing a transformative role in American society, but there have been few quantitative analyses of these historical events’ broad social effects. We exploit between-cohort variation in the probability of military service to investigate how WWII and the GI Bill altered the structure of marriage, and find that it had important spillover effects beyond its direct effect on men’s educational attainment. Our results suggest that the additional education received by returning veterans caused them to “sort” into wives with significantly higher levels of education. This suggests an important mechanism by which socioeconomic status may be passed on to the next generation.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Economics, Lafayette College, MFL
Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, TJM
Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina, JGM
Department of Economics, University of California Davis, MEP
U.S. Department of the Treasury, AJP


education, marital sorting, WWII GI Bill

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


National Science Foundation, Grant number: SES-0350988

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2019

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