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Effects of Military Service on Earnings and Education Revisited; Variation by Service Duration, Occupation, and Civilian Unemployment

May 20, 2014

Effects of Military Service on Earnings and Education Revisited; Variation by Service Duration, Occupation, and Civilian Unemployment
Source: RAND Corporation

The overriding objective of U.S. military compensation policy is to attract and retain the force necessary to meet the nation’s national security objectives. Whether and how military service affects earnings and an individual’s likelihood of completing college (one determinant of future earnings) has implications for military policies related to compensation, recruiting, and retention. Estimating the effect of military service is complicated by the fact that veterans are likely to differ from nonveterans in ways that are correlated with subsequent economic outcomes but are not observable to the researcher. This report builds on earlier work to understand how military service affects earnings, especially how these effects differ by the number of years of service and their military occupational specialties while serving. The authors also sought to understand how external factors and policies affect these impacts. To do this, they examined how economic conditions in the civilian labor market when individuals exit active duty affect postservice earnings, and they studied the effect on earnings of an Army recruiting program, Partnership for Youth Success, designed to promote enlistment but with the potential to ease the financial transition from military to civilian life.

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