The Effect of Vietnam-Era Conscription and Genetic Potential for Educational Attainment on Schooling Outcomes

Lauren L. Schmitz, Dalton Conley

NBER Working Paper No. 22393
Issued in July 2016
NBER Program(s):CH, ED, HE

This study examines whether draft-lottery estimates of the causal effect of Vietnam-era military service on schooling vary by genetic propensity toward educational attainment. To capture the complex genetic architecture that underlies the bio-developmental pathways behavioral traits and evoked environments associated with educational attainment, we construct a polygenic score (PGS) for the Vietnam-era cohort in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) that aggregates thousands of individual loci across the human genome, weighted by effect sizes derived from a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) for years of education. Our findings suggest veterans with below average PGSs for educational attainment completed fewer years of schooling than comparable non-veterans with the same PGS, primarily due to fewer years of college education. On the other hand, we do not find any difference in the educational attainment of veterans and non-veterans with above average PGSs. Results show that public policies and exogenous environments may induce heterogeneous treatment effects by genetic disposition.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22393

Published: Lauren L. Schmitz & Dalton Conley, 2017. "The Effect of Vietnam-Era Conscription and Genetic Potential for Educational Attainment on Schooling Outcomes," Economics of Education Review, .

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Schmitz and Conley w22348 The Impact of Late-Career Job Loss and Genotype on Body Mass Index
Nakamura, Sigurdsson, and Steinsson w22392 The Gift of Moving: Intergenerational Consequences of a Mobility Shock
Abramitzky, Boustan, and Eriksson w22381 Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration
Dell and Querubin Borrero w22395 Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies
King The Cash Flow Corporate Income Tax
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us