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Differences are most prominent for younger women

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Women make up more than half the adult civilian population in the United States, but only 8.4 percent of all veterans.

Female veterans are often underrepresented in statistical research, but a new report on the characteristics of female veterans by the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to fill the data void. Using 2015 American Community Survey data, the report explores characteristics and differences between female veterans and nonveterans by three age groups: early-career (ages 18 to 34); mid-career (ages 35 to 44); and late-career (ages 45 to 64).

In the youngest age group, a higher percentage of female veterans were enrolled in college (33.7 percent) than nonveteran women (27.0 percent). In this age group, female veterans were also older (median age of 30 years) than nonveteran women (median age 26 years). A higher percentage were married (45.1 percent and 29.6 percent, respectively), and had a child under 18 years old in the household (49.1 percent and 33.4 percent, respectively).

The differences between female veterans and non-veterans were smaller as the women got older. For the mid-career age group, or of 35 to 44-year-olds age group, female veterans had very similar rates of having a child under age 18 in the home and being employed to nonveterans in the same age group. The oldest group, women ages 45 to 64, also had similar rates of being employed to their nonveteran counterparts.

Education also differed between female veterans and nonveterans. Early-career veterans were less likely than early-career nonveterans to have completed a college degree. The opposite is true for mid- and late-career women. The older groups had a higher percentage of having completed a Bachelor’s degree or higher than nonveterans in these age groups. 

For more information about veterans research at the Census Bureau, check out https://www.census.gov/topics/population/veterans.html


Daphne Lofquist is a demographer in the Census Bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division.


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