Ariell Zimran
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Who Benefited from World War II Service and the GI Bill? New Evidence on Heterogeneous Effects for Veterans
with William J. Collins
In preparation for the NBER conference on the Economics of World War II

We study the heterogeneous effects of World War II service and the GI Bill on the educational attainment and labor market outcomes of immigrants' children ("second-generation" immigrants) in comparison to those of veterans with US-born parents. Preliminary analysis using the public use samples of the 1960 and 1970 censuses and an instrumental variables-regression discontinuity strategy based on the sharp change in the probability of military service with the 1928 birth cohort suggests that men with fathers from southeastern Europe benefitted less from the GI Bill in terms of increased probability of graduating college or additional years of education than White men with US-born fathers. In contrast, men whose fathers immigrated from northwestern Europe appear to have benefitted more than other groups. This preliminary analysis builds on earlier research on World War II veterans, and we propose to expand the analysis in new directions using the upcoming release of the fully digitized complete-count 1950 census. This new data source should enable us to estimate the effects of the GI Bill more precisely, to sidestep some challenges associated with analyses of later censuses (e.g., the Korean War), to expand the analysis in terms of outcomes and heterogeneity, and to consider data that are linked from childhood households to adult outcomes.