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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Americans and the Military

While most Americans today have family members who once served or are currently serving in the armed forces, a new Pew Research Center study finds there is a large gap on this measure between older and younger adults.

More than three-quarters (77%) of adults ages 50 and older said they had an immediate family member -- a spouse, parent, sibling or child -- who had served in the military. For many of these adults, their military family members are likely to have served prior to the phasing out of the military draft in 1973. Younger adults are much less likely to have family members who served in the military. Some 57% of those ages 30-49 say they have an immediate family member who served. And among those ages 18-29, the share is only one-third.

This gap may be attributable in part to a life-cycle effect - younger adults are less likely to have a spouse or a grown child, so they have fewer opportunities to have a family member who has served in the military. They may accumulate more military family members as they age. But even when controlling for these factors, the age gap persists. Adults under age 50 who are married and those who have grown children are less likely than their older counterparts to report that these immediate family members served in the military.

This study is based on two nationally representative surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center from July 28 through Sept. 15 -- one of the nation's military veterans and another of the general public.