The causal effects of Vietnam-era military service on post-war family dynamics

Jennifer A. Heerwig, Dalton Conley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Past work has suggested a lasting impact of military service on the lives of veterans. By intervening at a critical stage in the lives of young men, service may open up opportunities for disadvantaged youth. In contrast, the negative consequences of exposure to combat may offset these presumed advantages. Induction into the military is also a nonrandom process that makes identifying the effects of service exceedingly difficult. In this study we use an instrumental variable (IV) approach to model the causal impact of Vietnam-era military service on two outcomes, marital stability and co-residence with adult offspring. We find limited evidence to suggest that military service may have a lasting effect on family life. In particular, we find that service reduces the probability of marital dissolution for white men. Service also significantly increases the probability of filial co-residence for men of other races.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Family stability
  • Filial coresidence
  • Instrumental variables
  • Marital dissolution
  • Military service
  • Veterans
  • Vietnam draft


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