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Codes and Frequencies

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VETSTAT is a dichotomous variable identifying veterans, that is, persons who served in the military forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard) in time of war or peace, but who were not in the armed forces at the time of the survey.

Information on the most recent period of service for veterans is given in the VETLAST variable. Data are not available for 1966. Beginning in 2006, veterans could report up to four periods of service. While the most recent period of service is included in VETLAST variable (comparable over time), the four variables: VET1, VET2, VET3, and VET4 are also available for the four period of service for veterans.


For the samples from January 1989 to July 2005, the respondents were asked to identify the period during which he/she served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. The respondents chose from six options: Vietnam Era, Korean War, World War II, World War I, Other Service (All Other Periods), and Nonveteran. We recoded respondents that chose the first five categories as veterans, and those that chose Nonveteran or did not answer the question as nonveterans.

In August 2005 and later samples, the respondents were simply asked whether they ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The universe of VETSTAT changes over time.

Comparability with IPUMS-USA

Veteran status was reported for women beginning in the 1980 census, but not until 1988 in the CPS. In the census, the lower age limit for this question was as follows: age 14 and older in 1960 and 1970; age 16 and older in 1980 and 1990; and age 17 and older in 2000. In the CPS, information on military service was collected on persons age 14 and older through 1979, age 15 and older between 1980 and 2005, and age 17 and older beginning in 2006. Apart from the differences in the variable universe mentioned above, VETSTAT is comparable in IPUMS-USA and IPUMS-CPS. The VETLAST variable dealing with the timing of military service in IPUMS-CPS poses greater comparability challenges with veteran variables in IPUMS-USA.


  • 1964-1965, 1967: Civilian males age 14+ (pre-1968 samples do not include persons under age 14).
  • 1968-1979: Civilian males age 14+.
  • 1980-1987: Civilian males age 15+.
  • 1988-July 2005: Civilians age 15+.
  • August 2005+: Civilians age 17+.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1964 – 1965 - - X - - - - - - - - - -
1967 – 1988 - - X - - - - - - - - - -
1989 – 2023 X X X X X X X X X X X X X
2024 X X - X X X - - - - - - -