Political  Calculations

What is the lasting economic impact of the men who died while serving their country in war?

In our last installment, we showed that the single greatest factor behind the exponential increase in the number of single person households after the 1930s was the loss of over 416,000 men who died while in military service during the Second World War. The vast majority of these men had been drafted into military service, all between the ages of 18 and 37, where they were inducted after being selected through a lottery process operated by their local draft boards.

That lottery process ensured that approximately equal numbers of healthy American men by year of birth would enter into military service, which explains why the average age of the men who served in the U.S. military during World War 2 was 26. And since over 87% of U.S. military casualties in the war occurred in 1944 and 1945, enough time had elapsed from when President Franklin D. Roosevelt imposed the draft by executive order for the population of American casualties to reflect the age distribution of those who had been drafted.

Thousands of Single Person U.S. Households, with Age 65+ Single Person Households, Men and Women, 1960-2013, with WW2 Related Comments

If these more than 416,000 men had lived, they would have turned Age 65 in the years from 1970 through 1992. Instead, if we assume that the number of American casualties are approximately equally distributed by age, reflecting the age distribution of those who served, beginning in 1970 at least 15,735 fewer men reached Age 65 in each year for the next 22 years than would have been the case otherwise. (87% of the over 416,000 deaths of U.S. servicemen during the war is 361,920, which divided by the 23 years between 1970 and 1992, works out to be 15,735 men per year.)

The Hole They Left Behind in American Society

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