Data Cart

Your data extract

0 variables
0 samples
View Cart
VETSTAT
Veteran status

Description

  • Overview of Veteran Variables

Information on veterans has been collected sporadically by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the census of 1840, a special volume was issued that gave the names, ages, and places of residence of pensioners of the Revolutionary War or other U.S. military service, but other veterans were not identified. An inquiry on veterans was undertaken in the census of 1890, and summary statistics on surviving veterans of the Union and Confederate Armies were published. A question on veteran status was also included in the census of 1910, but it referred only to veterans of the Civil War and was evidently omitted by many enumerators. The 1930, 1940, and 1950 censuses included more detailed veteran questions. The 1940 census also identified the spouses and children (under age 18) of veterans, as well as the mortality status of the veteran husbands/fathers.

Data on veteran status in the 1940 and 1950 censuses were not satisfactory. Age and type-of-service entries were sometimes inconsistent, and non-reporting was relatively high. Furthermore, the totals did not correspond well with figures compiled by the Veterans Administration. The location of the question on the schedule may have been responsible for some of the errors. Because of these problems, the results of these original inquiries were not published.

The wording of the question on veteran status for the 1990-2000 censuses, the ACS, and the PRCS was expanded from the veteran/not veteran question in 1980, to include questions on current active duty status and service or training in the military Reserves and the National Guard. The expansion was intended to clarify the appropriate response for persons in the armed forces and for persons who had served in the National Guard or military Reserve units only. VETSTAT includes both general and detailed versions to capture this detail, but the measurement of veteran status makes it impossible to obtain fully harmonized categories; see the comparability discussion below.

Women were first included in veteran service questions in the 1980 census. In 1940, veteran status was extended to service in peacetime, as well as during wars and expeditions. Periods of service identified on the form changed over time, with 1980 on distinguishing between various time periods after the Korean War. The 1990 census added a question on total years of military service (see VETYRS). The 2000 census, the ACS, and the PRCS included a question on length of active-duty military service, which distinguished between those with less than two years versus two or more years of service.

  • Definition of Veteran

Prior to 1990, a "veteran" is defined as a civilian of a certain age (which varied by year) who had formerly served in the armed forces of the United States. Beginning in 1980, women were included in the definition. In the 1990-2000 censuses, the ACS, and the PRCS persons currently in the armed forces were defined as veterans.

From 1940 on, "service" is defined as active duty in the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard for any length of time and at any place at home or abroad. For 1970 on, participation in the National Guard or military Reserves counts as "service" only for those called to active duty (e.g., during World War II, the Korean War, or the Persian Gulf War); training or attendance at weekly meetings is not "service." The 1990 census defined work as a Merchant Marine Seaman during World War II as active duty.

Census forms differed in what they specifically excluded from the definition of military service. The following activities were never counted as military service: (1) civilian employment or volunteer activities for the Red Cross, USO, Public Health Service, or the War, Navy, and Defense Departments; 2) Merchant Marine employment outside of World War II; 3) service in the armed forces of another country.

VETSTAT indicates whether individuals served in the military forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard) in time of war or peace. "Service" included active duty in these branches of the military for any length of time and at any place at home or abroad.

Since the census, ACS, and PRCS data on veterans are based on self-reported responses, they differ from data from other sources, such as administrative records of the Department of Defense. Data in the IPUMS on veterans may also differ from Veterans Administration data on the benefits-eligible population, since factors determining eligibility for veterans' benefits differ from the rules for classifying veterans in the census, the ACS, and the PRCS.

Results based on the IPUMS data likewise differ from published reports by the Census Bureau. In the Bureau's printed tabulations, persons serving in at least one wartime period are classified by their most recent wartime service. In contrast, the dichotomous veteran variables in the IPUMS preserve information about all reported periods of service for each veteran. In the IPUMS, the responses were edited to eliminate inconsistencies between reported period(s) of service and the age of the person, and to cancel out reported combinations of periods containing unreasonable gaps (for example, a person could not serve during World War I and the Korean conflict without serving during World War II).

Codes and Frequencies




Can't find the category you are looking for? Try the Detailed codes

Comparability

The censuses of 1940 and 1960-2000, the ACS, and the PRCS contained questions directly identifying VETSTAT. The variable was constructed for 1950 using VETWWI, VETWWII, VETOTHER, AGE, SEX, and EMPSTAT. The age cut-off varied by year, but users can create a uniform dataset by excluding individuals under 18.

The question on veteran status was asked only of men prior to 1980; women were included starting in 1980. In the 1940-1980 censuses, a "veteran" is defined as a civilian, of a designated age and sex (see the universe statements, above), who had served in the armed forces of the United States but who was not serving at the time of the census.

Aside from the N/A category (general code 0), VETSTAT includes two general and seven detailed categories:

  • Not a veteran (general code 1; detailed code 10): In most years, more detail is available.
  • No military service (detailed code 11): This includes the vast majority of non-veterans. In certain years, it also includes persons from other categories (see below).
  • Military service, but currently on active duty (detailed code 12): In the 1990-2000 censuses, the ACS, and the PRCS, the veteran status question explicitly identifies current members of the armed forces; they are not treated as veterans because their service is still ongoing. These non-veterans can also be identified in 1950-1980 through the EMPSTAT variable, since in those years the "Armed Forces" category identifies all those currently on active duty. (However, results from years in which this category is explicitly identified suggests that not everyone identified as being on active duty through EMPSTAT is actually currently on active duty.) Unfortunately, the original 1940 employment status item did not include "Armed Forces" as a response, so there is no way to identify persons currently on active duty; they are instead lumped in with the general "Not a veteran" category.
  • Training for Reserves or National Guard service only (detailed code 13): The treatment of National Guard and Reserve service varies across years. In 1940, no National Guard or Reserve service qualified one for veteran status, and all such servicemembers are included in the "No military service" category. In 1960, it is unclear how this service was treated. In all other years for which VETSTAT is available, National Guard and Reserve members who were not called to active duty are not considered veterans. However, they are explicitly identified only in the 2000 census and the ACS/PRCS. In all other years, they are part of the "No military service" category.
  • Veteran (on active duty in past, but not now) (general code 2; detailed code 20): This code contains all persons with past military service but who are not currently on active duty. In some years, additional detail is available.
  • Veteran, on active duty in past 12 months but not now (detailed code 21)
  • Veteran, on active duty prior to past 12 months but not now (detailed code 22)
  • Veteran, active duty in Reserves or National Guard only (detailed code 23): Except for 1940 and possibly 1960, Reserve or National Guard members who were called to active duty are classified as veterans. However, this type of veteran is explicitly identified only in the 1990 census. In 1940, they were not classified as veterans; in 1960, it is unclear how this type of service was treated.

The treatment of National Guard and Reserve service varies across years. In 1940, National Guard and Reserve service are excluded. In 1950, they are included if such service was during World War II. It is unclear how this service was treated in 1960. For the 1970-2000 censuses, the ACS, and the PRCS National Guard and Reserve service are included only if individuals were called to active duty.

The 1940 question included women and children, but only for the purpose of identifying wives, widows, and non-adult children of male veterans. Women and all children under 18 have been excluded from VETSTAT (i.e., receive codes of 0) in 1940 in the IPUMS. (See VET1940 for responses to the original 1940 veteran status question.) Beginning in 1980, the veteran questions included women. There were women in the armed forces prior to 1980, but their numbers were small and their presence was not captured in the census. In 1990, "veteran service" was retroactively redefined to include service in the Merchant Marines during World War II. These individuals would have been considered non-veterans in earlier census counts. As noted above, persons currently in the armed forces are considered veterans in the 1990-2000 censuses, the ACS, and the PRCS but not in earlier years.

Universe

  • 1940: Sample-line males age 18+.
  • 1950: Sample-line males age 14+.
  • 1960-1970: Males age 14+.
  • 1980-1990: Persons age 16+.
  • 2000, ACS, PRCS 2016 2016 2016 2016: Persons age 17+.

Availability

United States
  • 2016: All samples
  • 2015: All samples
  • 2014: All samples
  • 2013: All samples
  • 2012: All samples
  • 2011: All samples
  • 2010: ACS; ACS 3yr; ACS 5yr
  • 2009: All samples
  • 2008: All samples
  • 2007: All samples
  • 2006: All samples
  • 2005: All samples
  • 2004: All samples
  • 2003: All samples
  • 2002: All samples
  • 2001: All samples
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: All samples
  • 1980: All samples
  • 1970: 1% state fm2; 1% metro fm2; 1% neigh fm2
  • 1960: All samples
  • 1950: All samples
  • 1940: All samples
  • 1930: --
  • 1920: --
  • 1910: --
  • 1900: --
  • 1880: --
  • 1870: --
  • 1860: --
  • 1850: --
Puerto Rico
  • 2016: All samples
  • 2015: All samples
  • 2014: All samples
  • 2013: All samples
  • 2012: All samples
  • 2011: All samples
  • 2010: PRCS; PRCS 3yr; PRCS 5yr
  • 2009: All samples
  • 2008: All samples
  • 2007: All samples
  • 2006: All samples
  • 2005: All samples
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: All samples
  • 1980: All samples
  • 1970: All samples
  • 1930: --
  • 1920: --
  • 1910: --

Flags

QVETSTAT  QVETPER 

Editing Procedure


VETSTAT (Veteran status)
VETYRS (Years of active-duty military service)
VET01LTR
VET90X01
VET75X90
VET80X90
VET75X80
VETVIETN
VET55X64
VETKOREA
VET47X50
VETWWII
VETOTHER

ACS Years: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

ACS editing procedure:

Note: VETYRS was not asked after 2007.

If a person is under 17, all veteran related questions will be replaced with "Not in Universe."

If a person's age (AGE) is greater than the survey year-1926 (this implies the person was born prior to 1926; this is likely a typo and the edit may actually apply to those born after 1926), and they state that they never served in the military (VETSTAT) and all periods of service are "No" except "Active duty 11/41 or earlier" is "Yes" and years of active duty service (VETYRS) is less than 2 or missing, this service period will be replaced with "No."

If a person over 66 (AGE), reports being on active duty during the last 12 months but not now, VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty in the past, but not during the past 12 months." Prior to 2008, VET90X01 will also be set to "No."

In 2006 and 2007, if a person who is 17 reports being "On active duty in the past, but not in the last 12 months" VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty in the past 12 months, but not now." In 2008 and later, if a person who is 18 or younger reports being "On active duty in the past, but not in the last 12 months" VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty in the past 12 months, but not now."

If a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and VETSTAT indicates they are on active duty without specifying more details, VETSTAT will be replaced with "Yes, now on active duty." If a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and VETSTAT indicates they are not on active duty, VETSTAT will be replaced with "No, training for Reserves or National Guard only."

If a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and VETSTAT indicates "Yes, on active duty during the last 12 months, but not now" or "Yes, on active duty in past, but not during the last 12 months" and Industry Code (IND) is not Military Reserves or National Guard, VETSTAT will be replaced with "Yes, now on active duty." In 2008 and later, if the person does report IND as being in the Military Reserves or National Guard, VETSTAT will be replaced with "No, training for Reserves or National Guard only."

Prior to 2008, if a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and VETSTAT is blank, don't know, refused, or bad value, VETSTAT will be replaced with "Yes, now on active duty."

If a person is 17 or older is in universe for EMPSTAT and does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status, VETSTAT is "No, unspecified", VETSTAT will be replaced with "No, never served in the military."

If a person is 17 or older is in universe for EMPSTAT and does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status, VETSTAT is "Yes, now on active duty", VETSTAT will be replaced with a missing value.

For survey years prior to 2008:

If a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT), VET01LTR is "No" and only one other period of service, except 11/41 or earlier, is "Yes", and that period falls between 5/1975 and 8/1980, and years on active duty is 2 or more years, VET80X90, VET90X01, and VET01LTR will be replaced with "Yes"

If a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT), VET01LTR is "No" and only one other period of service, except 11/41 or earlier, is "Yes", and that period falls between 9/1980 and 7/1990, and years on active duty is 2 or more year, VET90X01 and VET01LTR will be replaced with "Yes"

If a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT), VET01LTR is "No" and only one other period of service, except 11/41 or earlier, is "Yes", and that period falls between 9/1990 and 8/2001, and years on active duty is 2 or more year, VET01LTR will be replaced with "Yes"

If a person is 17 or older and has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and VETSTAT is "No, training for Reserves or National Guard only," all periods of service variables will be replaced with "Not in Universe."

If a person is 17 or older is in universe for EMPSTAT and does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status, VETSTAT is "Yes, now on active duty," and at least one veteran period is selected or AGE is less than 21, VETSTAT will be replaced with "Yes, on active duty in the past 12 months by not now."

If a person is 17 or older is in universe for EMPSTAT and does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status, VETSTAT is "Yes, now on active duty," and no veteran periods are selected and AGE is 21 or greater, VETSTAT will be replaced with "Yes, on active duty in the past, but not during the past 12 months."

If a person is 17 or older is in universe for EMPSTAT and does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status, VETSTAT is "No, training for Reserves or National Guard only", VETYRS and all veteran periods will be replaced with "Not in Universe"

If a person 17 or older reports "Yes, on active duty during the last 12 months but not now" or "Yes, on active duty in the past, but not during the past 12 months" for VETSTAT, but VETYRS is blank, and all periods of service are "No" or blank, the value of VETYRS and periods of service will be allocated. This will also occur is VETYRS is positive, but all periods of service are "No" or blank. The allocated values of VETYRS and periods of service are drawn from another person with a similar value for VETSTAT, AGE, RACE, and SEX.

If a person 17 or older reports "No active duty service" for VETSTAT and all periods of service are "No" or blank and IND is not "Active Duty Military or Military Reserves or National Guard", VETYRS and all periods of service will be made "Not in Universe."

If a person 17 or older has a blank value for VETSTAT, all periods of service are "No" or blank, VETYRS is blank, and IND is not "Active Duty Military or Military Reserves or National Guard," the values of VETSTAT will be allocated. The allocated value will be drawn from a person with a similar value for AGE, SEX, and RACE. If the allocated value is "Yes, on active duty during the last 12 months but not now" or "Yes, on active duty in the past, but not during the past 12 months," VETYRS and periods of service will be allocated from another person with a similar value for VETSTAT, AGE, RACE, and SEX.

If a person 17 or older reports "Yes, on active duty" "On active duty during the last 12 months, but not now" or "On active duty in the past, but not during the last 12 months" (VETSTAT) but VETYRS is blank, it will be allocated from someone else with a similar value for VETSTAT, AGE, RACE, and SEX.

If a person 17 or older reports being on active duty (VETSTAT) but VET01LTR is not "Yes," it will be replaced with "Yes."

If a person under 19 reports being on active duty for more than two years (VETYRS), VETYRS will be replaced with "Less than 2 years."

For survey years 2008 to 2012:

If a person 17 or older has a missing value for VETSTATand has a "Yes" for any veteran period, VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty in the last 12 months, but not now."

If a person who is 17 or older has a VETSTAT value of "No, training for Reserves or National Guard only" or "No, never served in the military," all periods of service will be made "Not in universe."

If a person who is 17 or older has "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT), reports being on active duty (VETSTAT), and VET01LTR is not "Yes," VET01LTR will be replaced with "Yes." If the other veteran periods are blank, they will be replaced with "No."

If a person reports serving a in a period where they are too young, that service period will be replaced with a "No." This applies in the following situations:

  • A person born after 1986 reports serving between 8/1990 and 8/2001
  • A person born after 1975 reports serving between 9/1980 and 7/1990
  • A person born after 1965 reports serving between 5/1975 and 8/1980
  • A person born after 1960 reports serving between 8/1964 and 4/1975
  • A person born after 1949 reports serving between 3/1961 and 7/1964
  • A person born after 1946 reports serving between 2/1955 and 2/1961
  • A person born after 1940 reports serving between 7/1950 and 1/1955
  • A person born after 1935 reports serving between 1/1947 and 6/1950
  • A person born after 1931 reports serving between 12/1941 and 12/1946
  • A person born after 1926 reports serving before 11/1941

If a person reports serving a in a period where they are too old, that service period will be replaced with a "No." This applies in the following situations:

  • A person born before 1937 reports serving 09/2001 or later
  • A person born before 1926 reports serving between 8/1990 and 8/2001
  • A person born before 1916 reports serving between 9/1980 and 7/1990
  • A person born before 1911 reports serving between 5/1975 and 8/1980

If a person reports their first period of service in a period where they are too old, that service period will be replaced with a "No." This applies in the following situations:

  • A person born after 1955 reports first serving between 09/2011 or later
  • A person born after 1944 reports first serving between 8/1990 and 8/2001
  • A person born after 1934 reports first serving between 9/1980 and 7/1990
  • A person born after 1929 reports first serving between 5/1975 and 8/1980
  • A person born after 1918 reports first serving between 8/1964 and 4/1975

If a person reports gaps in their service periods, all service periods will be replaced with a "No." This applies in the following situations:

  • Active duty 09/2001 and later is "Yes", active duty between 9/1980 and 8/2001 is "No" but an earlier period is "Yes."
  • Active duty 09/2001 and later or active duty 8/1990-8/2001 is "Yes", active duty between 4/1975 and 7/1990 is "No," but an earlier period is "Yes."
  • A period of active duty between 9/1980 and 2001 or later is "Yes," active duty between 7/1964 and 8/1980 is "No," but an earlier period is "Yes."
  • A period of active duty between 5/1975 and 2001 or later is "Yes," active duty between 2/1955 and 4/1975 is "No," but an earlier period is "Yes."
  • A period of active duty between 8/1964 and 2001 or later is "Yes," active duty between 12/1941 and 7/1964 is "No," but an earlier period is "Yes."
  • Active duty between 8/1964 and 4/1975 is "Yes," active duty 7/1950 to 1/1955 is "No," but active duty 12/1941 to 12/1946 is "Yes."

If a person 18 or older who does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and reports VETSTAT as "On active duty during the last 12 months, but not now" but then does not report active duty in 09/2001 and later, VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty in the past, but not during the last 12 months."

If a person 17 or older who does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and reports VETSTAT as "Yes, unspecified" and reports active duty in 09/2001 and later, VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty during the last 12 months, but not now." If they do not report active duty in 09/2001 and later but do in an earlier period, VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty in the past, but not during the last 12 months."

If a person does not have "Armed Forces" as their employment status (EMPSTAT) and reports VETSTAT as "Yes, unspecified" and does not report any periods of active duty, and is 17 to 21, VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty during the last 12 months, but not now." If they are over 21, VETSTAT will be replaced with "On active duty in the past, but not during the last 12 months."

If a person is 17 or older and has a missing value for VETSTAT, VETSTAT will be allocated. The allocated value will be drawn from a person with a similar value for AGE, SEX, and RACE. If the allocated value is "Yes, on active duty during the last 12 months but not now" or "Yes, on active duty in the past, but not during the past 12 months," periods of service will be allocated from another person with a similar value for VETSTAT, AGE, RACE, and SEX.

If a person is 17 or older and reports being on active duty or having been on active duty in the past (VETSTAT) and has no "Yes" for periods any service, the periods of service will be allocated from another person with a similar value for VETSTAT, AGE, RACE, and SEX.

If a person 17 or older reports being on active duty, and have a "Yes" for active duty in 9/2001 or later, reports a "No" for active duty between 8/1990 and 8/2001, and a "Yes" for some previous period, the periods of service will be allocated from another person with a similar value for VETSTAT, AGE, RACE, and SEX.

For survey year 2013:

In 2013, VETSTAT collapsed "On active duty during the last 12 months, but not now" and "On active duty in the past, but not during the last 12 months" into "On active duty in the past, but not now." Some of the veteran periods were also collapsed. For example, February 1955 to February 1961 and March 1961 to July 1964 were combined into one period. The editing described above apply in the same manner, to these collapsed categories.

Internal ACS variable : MIL, MILP, MILY