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Moving with the Military: Race, Class, and Gender Differences in the Employment Consequences of Tied Migration

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Doctoral thesis

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When a spouse must move to a new geographic location as a result of the employment situation of his or her wife or husband, that spouse is often referred to as a tied migrant or a trailing spouse. Previous research demonstrates negative employment and earnings consequences for tied migrants, but little is known about how the impact of such mobility differs by the gender, race, and class of the trailing spouse. The U.S. military requires a great deal of mobility from its active duty members and their spouses. Traditional conceptualizations of geographic mobility, such as whether or not a spouse has moved, are not adequate to capture the multidimensional nature of geographic mobility in the military. This study examines several dimensions of mobility the number of moves a spouse has made, the average number of years a spouse experiences between moves, the number of years that a spouse has lived at an overseas location, and the number of years that a spouse has been living at his or her current location. Data from the 1992 Department of Defense Survey of Spouses are used to answer the question of how these dimensions of geographic mobility affect the employment situation of civilian spouses of military personnel and how their impact differs by gender, race, and class. The results generally indicate that, net of several factors related to employment and earnings, increased levels of geographic mobility are associated with increased difficulty in finding employment, increased dissatisfaction with employment opportunities, decreased levels of employment, and lower annual earnings. Results varied, though, by gender, race, and class. Policy implications of these results are considered and suggestions for future research made.

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  • Sociology and Law

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