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MacLean, Alair & Elder, Glen H., Jr. (2007). Military Service in the Life Course. Annual Review of Sociology, 33, 175-196.


We review research published in the past 15 years that explores the relationship between military service and the life course, focusing on criminal careers, marital status, lifelong health, and socioeconomic attainment. Throughout the review, we note the extent to which studies find that veterans experienced different outcomes in different historical periods, ranging from World War II to the more recent voluntary armed forces. The effects of military service depend on whether health, criminal, socioeconomic, or marital outcomes are considered. They also depend on the timing and era of service, and veterans’ family background and individual characteristics such as race and delinquency. Nevertheless, the evidence to date suggests one general conclusion: Veterans exposed to combat have suffered worse outcomes than noncombat veterans and than nonveterans.We conclude with suggestions for future research including a tighter integration of the research questions and strategies that have been employed to examine the different outcomes.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Annual Review of Sociology


MacLean, Alair
Elder, Glen H., Jr.