The effect of race and birth cohort on the veteran mortality differential

Scott D. Landes, Jeffri Anne Wilder, Desiree Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Research on veteran versus nonveteran mortality outcomes provides contrary results, with some studies reporting a veteran mortality advantage while others report a veteran mortality disadvantage. Life course scholars suggest these conflicting results may be explained by a crossover in the veteran-nonveteran mortality differential, with veterans having a mortality advantage during early and midlife and a mortality disadvantage during older age. We conducted discrete time hazard analysis of a veteran-nonveteran mortality crossover among black and white men in the United States by birth cohort using data from the 1986–2009(2011) National Health Interview Survey-Linked Mortality Files. Among men who turned age 18 during non-war eras, veterans had an early to midlife mortality advantage and later life mortality disadvantage, with differences more pronounced among black men. However, differences between veteran and nonveteran mortality risk were not significant among the majority of men who turned age 18 during war eras. Findings clarify that the mortality related benefits of military service may only apply to veterans who came of age during non-war eras. Furthermore, results suggest that military service may provide a greater mortality benefit to black veterans than white veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Birth cohort
  • Life course
  • Mortality
  • Race
  • Veteran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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