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Key Findings Details

Declining Wealth and Work among Male Veterans in the Health and Retirement Study
Alan L. Gustman, Thomas L. Steinmeier and Nahid Tabatabai
WP 2015-323

• We study the characteristics, wealth and retirement of veterans and nonveterans in four cohorts of males from the Health and Retirement Study, ages 51 to 56 in 1992, 1998, 2004 and 2010.

• In the oldest cohorts, roughly half the male population served in the military, while in the presence of a draft. Only about one sixth of the youngest cohort had served, and that was as a volunteer in the All-Volunteer military.

• Veterans in the 1992 cohort were better educated, were healthier, had more wealth going into retirement, and were more likely to work into a later age (less likely to retire) than nonveterans.

• Relative to nonveterans, the cohort of veterans in 2010 is less well educated, less healthy, has lower wealth entering retirement and is less likely to work than nonveterans.

• After standardizing for differences in observable variables, the wealth of veterans from the 1992 cohort entering retirement is similar to the wealth of nonveterans. This is not the case for the 2010 cohort. After standardizing for differences in observable factors, veterans have about 10 to 13 percent less wealth than nonveterans.

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