Occupational Mobility and Old-Age Survival: Evidence from Union Army Veterans 1861-1946

Dejun Su, University of Chicago

This paper explores the relationship between occupational mobility and old-age survival among Union Army veterans (N=11,978) who fought the American Civil War. Being a farmer at enlistment is associated with a significant survival advantage at old ages, and this advantage is robust regardless of socioeconomic conditions in later life. Occupational immobility for manual labors poses a serious threat to old-age survival. Living conditions circa birth and war-related traumatic experience both play a significant role in veterans' old-age survival. These findings highlight the impact of early life conditions on old-age survival. The advantages of a life course approach to health inequality at old ages were discussed.

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Presented in Session 135: Early Life Experiences and Mortality