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Table 4 shows the effect of the WWII GI Bill on poverty and employment for the pooled sample of white and black men. Column 1 gives the estimates in the preferred time window. The estimates are consistent across the various time windows. The results show that the WWII GI Bill reduced the probability of being poor by 4 percentage points, increased the probability of employment by 3 percentage points, and increased the number of weeks worked by two. Thus, the WWII GI Bill was effective in providing the benefited cohort of men with greater economic well-being, by reducing the incidence of poverty and increasing their employment levels. These effects are quite large when compared to the base means of these outcomes, as shown in table 1. For instance, the base mean for poverty is around 6 percent and the WWII GI Bill reduced the probability of poverty to 2 percent. More than 7 million veterans utilized the WWII GI Bill education benefits and almost half of them used the benefits to access below college level education and training. These statistics suggest that many of the large number of GI Bill beneficiaries were those who would have faced a nontrivial chance of poverty. The GI Bill, by reaching the lower half of the education distribution in large numbers, was able to substantially reduce the probability of severe economic outcomes, such as poverty and unemployment.

Table 4. 
Effect of GI Bill on Poverty and Employment for Men
1923—19321923—19281923—19301923—19341923—19361923—1938
Time Windows:(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
Panel A 
Dependent Variable: Dummy Variable = 1 if family is below poverty line 
WW II −0.0407*** −0.0555*** −0.0406*** −0.0473*** −0.0458*** −0.0359*** 
 (0.0128) (0.0159) (0.0130) (0.0126) (0.0114) (0.00954) 
Korea −0.0535*** −0.0752*** −0.0450*** −0.0573*** −0.0568*** −0.0421*** 
 (0.0147) (0.0242) (0.0168) (0.0140) (0.0126) (0.0106) 
R2 0.035 0.036 0.036 0.034 0.034 0.033 
Panel B 
Dependent Variable: Dummy Variable = 1 if employed last year 
WW II 0.0284*** 0.0262** 0.0309*** 0.0302*** 0.0274*** 0.0210*** 
 (0.00876) (0.0110) (0.00910) (0.00846) (0.00763) (0.00649) 
Korea 0.0329*** 0.0295* 0.0377*** 0.0393*** 0.0381*** 0.0265*** 
 (0.00958) (0.0173) (0.0112) (0.00934) (0.00838) (0.00701) 
R2 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 
Panel C 
Dependent Variable: Number of weeks worked 
WW II 2.012*** 1.883*** 2.146*** 2.068*** 1.927*** 1.341*** 
 (0.545) (0.685) (0.567) (0.528) (0.478) (0.411) 
Korea 2.238*** 1.962* 2.571*** 2.569*** 2.506*** 1.607*** 
 (0.608) (1.097) (0.712) (0.584) (0.525) (0.444) 
R2 0.018 0.017 0.018 0.018 0.018 0.018 
N 288,810 177,149 233,986 341,677 394,946 449,729 
1923—19321923—19281923—19301923—19341923—19361923—1938
Time Windows:(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
Panel A 
Dependent Variable: Dummy Variable = 1 if family is below poverty line 
WW II −0.0407*** −0.0555*** −0.0406*** −0.0473*** −0.0458*** −0.0359*** 
 (0.0128) (0.0159) (0.0130) (0.0126) (0.0114) (0.00954) 
Korea −0.0535*** −0.0752*** −0.0450*** −0.0573*** −0.0568*** −0.0421*** 
 (0.0147) (0.0242) (0.0168) (0.0140) (0.0126) (0.0106) 
R2 0.035 0.036 0.036 0.034 0.034 0.033 
Panel B 
Dependent Variable: Dummy Variable = 1 if employed last year 
WW II 0.0284*** 0.0262** 0.0309*** 0.0302*** 0.0274*** 0.0210*** 
 (0.00876) (0.0110) (0.00910) (0.00846) (0.00763) (0.00649) 
Korea 0.0329*** 0.0295* 0.0377*** 0.0393*** 0.0381*** 0.0265*** 
 (0.00958) (0.0173) (0.0112) (0.00934) (0.00838) (0.00701) 
R2 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 
Panel C 
Dependent Variable: Number of weeks worked 
WW II 2.012*** 1.883*** 2.146*** 2.068*** 1.927*** 1.341*** 
 (0.545) (0.685) (0.567) (0.528) (0.478) (0.411) 
Korea 2.238*** 1.962* 2.571*** 2.569*** 2.506*** 1.607*** 
 (0.608) (1.097) (0.712) (0.584) (0.525) (0.444) 
R2 0.018 0.017 0.018 0.018 0.018 0.018 
N 288,810 177,149 233,986 341,677 394,946 449,729 

Notes: The table shows the effect of the WWII GI Bill on poverty and employment for men. The independent variable of interest is the fraction of men who participated in WWII. The dependent variables are the dummy variables = 1 for family living under poverty line, dummy = 1 if worked positive number of weeks last year and number of weeks worked last year. The first column with a symmetrical ten-year window around the discontinuity point (end of 1927) gives the preferred estimates. The sample consists of black and white men born in the United States between 1923 and 1938. WWII is the fraction of men who participated in WWII in a birth year-quarter by state of birth cell. Similarly, Korea is the fraction of men who participated in the Korean War or at “any other time” but did not serve in WWII, in a birth year-quarter by state of birth cell. Standard errors are corrected for heteroskedasticity and are clustered at the level of birth year-quarter by state of birth. Controls include trend which is defined as (birth year − 1929 + [birth quarter/4]), trend squared, “Korea” interacted with trend variables, state of birth dummies, and their interactions with trend variables.

*Significant at the 10% level; **significant at the 5% level; ***significant at the 1% level.

Source: 1970 Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (see Ruggles et al. 2010).

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