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Married to the Military: The Employment and Earnings of Military Wives Compared With Those of Civilian Wives

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The purpose of this report is to analyze the employment and earnings of military wives compared with those of civilian wives between 1987 and 1999. Todays military is a military of families. About half of active-duty members are married as they enter their fifth year of service, and about three-fourths are married as they enter their tenth year of service. Therefore, in supporting the service member, manpower policy must often also support the members family. Family considerations are apparent in policies on housing, health care, child care, dependents schools, and compensation for separation from family members. Many military spouses work in the labor force and contribute to their familys material well-being, yet at the same time they must accommodate the demands the military makes of the member in the form of training, drills, inspections, education, exercises, peacetime operations, and hostile deployment. Also, the member is periodically reassigned, and permanent change-of-station PCS moves generally require the working wife to leave one job and find another. Thus, this report assesses the labor supply and wage of the military wife, recognizing the wifes contribution to family earnings and realizing that the militarys demands on the member also affect the wife. The analysis is based on a sample of husband-and-wife families drawn from the 1988-2000 Current Population Survey March Supplement and containing retrospective information for the previous year. The sample has two subsamples one for military families and one for civilian families. We weighted each subsample for each year to reflect the male age, education, and raceethnicity composition of the active-duty force in that year. We focused on military wives because there were not enough observations to study the husbands of female military members.

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  • Sociology and Law

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