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Does Increased Pilot Training Commitment Ground High-Flyers?

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Master's thesis

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This thesis explores the effects of changing the length of service owed to the Air Force for attending pilot training. The Air Force demands service as repayment for the expense incurred by the government to provide the training. From time to time, the length of commitment required has altered as the needs of the Air Force have changed. The Air Force believes that increasing the length of commitment will help to address long-term pilot supply issues. This thesis takes an empirical look at one possible negative side effect of increasing the length of commitment owed, namely the possibility of varying effects on the probability of attending pilot training on individuals of different ability levels, demographic make-ups, information positions, and macroeconomic conditions. The group used for studying these issues is a collection of graduates from the United States Air Force Academy from the class years of 1985 through 2000. Using this dataset, which has a plethora of performance and demographic data, a linear probability model is estimated to determine the effect on the probability of selecting pilot training due to an increased commitment length. The results of this study show that increasing the length of commitment leads to a negative impact on the probability of attending pilot training for nearly all of the members of the dataset. Furthermore, the effects are stronger on the individuals with higher performance, as measured by several different measures used by the Air Force Academy. In multiple interaction models, the negative effects are stronger on individuals showing improvement in performance versus individuals with declining performance. There are no differences in the effects on groups with different demographics and information positions. Additionally, the macroeconomic conditions have small bearings on the results.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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