Racial / Ethnic Differences in the Relationship between Childhood Disadvantage, Military Service, and Men's Later-Life Health

Janet M. Wilmoth, Syracuse University
Andrew S. London, Syracuse University
Wendy Parker, Syracuse University
Glen H. Elder, Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Data from the 1992-2006 HRS are used to examine whether the effects of childhood disadvantage on later-life health are mediated or moderated by military service, and whether the observed relationships vary by race/ethnicity. Comparisons are made between nonveterans, veterans with no wartime service, and veterans with wartime service. Growth curve models predicting ADL limitations and self-rated health are estimated. The results indicate that military service does not mediate the observed relationship between childhood disadvantage and later-life health trajectories. Military service does moderate that relationship for Whites and Hispanics, but not Blacks; for Whites and Hispanics, military service offsets some of the negative effect of childhood SES disadvantage on later-life health. Military service also has independent effects on later-life health for all three racial/ethnic groups, although some of those effects are mediated by mid- to late-life characteristics.

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Presented in Session 3: Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Health and Mortality