, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 1431–1461

War and Marriage: Assortative Mating and the World War II GI Bill

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

DOI: 10.1007/s13524-015-0426-x

Cite this article as:
Larsen, M.F., McCarthy, T.J., Moulton, J.G. et al. Demography (2015) 52: 1431. doi:10.1007/s13524-015-0426-x


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.


Marital sorting Education WWII GI Bill 

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew F. Larsen
    • 1
  • T. J. McCarthy
    • 2
  • Jeremy G. Moulton
    • 3
  • Marianne E. Page
    • 4
  • Ankur J. Patel
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsLafayette CollegeEastonUSA
  2. 2.Sol Price School of Public PolicyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Public PolicyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  5. 5.U.S. Department of the TreasuryWashingtonUSA

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