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PLoS One. 2016 May 17;11(5):e0154203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154203. eCollection 2016.

Are There Spillover Effects from the GI Bill? The Mental Health of Wives of Korean War Veterans.

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Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States of America.
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States of America.
Department of Global Health and Populations, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States of America.
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States of America.
Department of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, RI, United States of America.



The Korean War GI Bill provided economic benefits for veterans, thereby potentially improving their health outcomes. However potential spillover effects on veteran wives have not been evaluated.


Data from wives of veterans eligible for the Korean War GI Bill (N = 128) and wives of non-veterans (N = 224) from the Health and Retirement Study were matched on race and coarsened birth year and childhood health using coarsened exact matching. Number of depressive symptoms in 2010 (average age = 78) were assessed using a modified, validated Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale. Regression analyses were stratified into low (mother < 8 years schooling / missing data, N = 95) or high (mother ≥ 8 years schooling, N = 257) childhood socio-economic status (cSES) groups, and were adjusted for birth year and childhood health, as well as respondent's educational attainment in a subset of analyses.


Husband's Korean War GI Bill eligibility did not predict depressive symptoms among veteran wives in pooled analysis or cSES stratified analyses; analyses in the low cSES subgroup were underpowered (N = 95, β = -0.50, 95% Confidence Interval: (-1.35, 0.35), p = 0.248, power = 0.28).


We found no evidence of a relationship between husband's Korean War GI Bill eligibility and wives' mental health in these data, however there may be a true effect that our analysis was underpowered to detect.

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