Abstract

Did the World War II (WWII) GI Bill increase the probability of completing high school and further affect the probability of poverty and employment for the cohorts for whom it benefited? This paper studies whether the GI Bill, one of the largest public financial aid policies for education, affected low education levels in addition to its documented effects on college education, and whether it increased economic well-being for its beneficiaries. I use the 1970 Census and the variation in WWII military participation rate across birth cohorts and states of birth for men. I find that the WWII GI Bill significantly increased the probability of completing high school by 13 percentage points and reduced the probability of being below the poverty line by 4 percentage points for black and white men. It also increased the probability of being employed by 3 percentage points and the number of weeks worked by two weeks.

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