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The Effects of Military Change-of-Station Moves on Spousal Earnings

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Technical Report

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RAND National Defense Research Institute Santa Monica United States

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In the first decade of the 21st century, hundreds of thousands of married individuals served in active-duty roles in the U.S. military. Active duty imposes a unique and often stressful lifestyle on couples and families even in peacetime, frequent duty location changes can interrupt valued support networks and childrens education. Spouses career earnings may be especially affected by permanent change-of-station PCS moves. Job-specific skills and knowledge gained while one is working are essentially lost at the end of that job and must be developed again in a new position. Moreover, spouses seeking work in occupations that require state certification or licensing may face employment barriers if their previous credentials are not recognized at their new location. Finally, the inherently disruptive nature of moving could have negative effects on productivity, thereby lowering wages. To date, our understanding of how PCS moves affect military spousal earnings has been incomplete. Previous research has focused on outcomes from survey data and comparisons relating current earnings to past moves. These analyses are limited, as previous comparisons could not account for individuals earnings prior to PCS moves.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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