Long Run Effects of Military Service: Evidence from the 911 Attacks

We investigate the effect of military service on labor market, health and family formation outcomes, leveraging differential changes in enlistment rates brought about by the September 11th attacks (911). Using restricted microdata, we identify hundreds of “high service” counties in which certain birth-county cohorts exhibit large enlistment responses to 911. We find that individuals born into high service counties between 1977 and 1983 (aged 18-24 at the time of the attack), enlisted at nearly twice the rate of earlier birth cohorts (older than 24 at the time of the attack). These high service birth-county cohorts experienced a 10% increase in wages, decreased unemployment and impacts on other labor market measures as well as key household formation measures including marriage and fertility. We also find increases in the hospitalization and mortality rates. Labor market benefits outweigh mortality costs at standard discount rates