The Association of Military Rank with Oldest-Old Survival in Military Academy Graduates

Ronny Westerman , Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)
Allan Mazur, Syracuse University
Ulrich O. Mueller, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

Military officers with final top military rank gained greater benefits in long-term survival after active service, especially at the older age. This might be a causal relation: higher military ranks may advance health conditions and healthy life expectancy. Otherwise it can be selective: only men in robust health conditions will make it to the top military ranks. For this study we investigated the graduates of 1949, 1950, 1951 of the US Naval Academy (n=2206) and US Military Academy (n=1719), with 24.9%, 24.6%, 20.2% equally distributed survivors at August 31, 2019. We selected men with more than 20 years of active service. Variation of known major confounders for survival in this study sample is low. As the major outcome we defined a positive association between final rank and life span. We found significant mortality differentials by rank peaking around age 80 years. This pattern supports selection hypothesis. The sorting of trajectories to different final ranks and different lifespans starts early. For covariates like the State of origin and army branch only marginal effects for the oldest-old survival were identified. The time length of duty was a positive predictor for lower mortality. Military officers who stayed longer for active duty had even better chances to achieve higher final military ranks followed with greater individual benefits for long-term survival.

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 Presented in Session 17. Oldest Old