Employment Gaps Between Military Spouses and Matched Civilians

Published in: Armed Forces & Society, v. 42, no. 3, July 2016, p. 542-561

Posted on RAND.org on July 26, 2016

by Sarah O. Meadows, Beth Ann Griffin, Benjamin Karney, Julia Pollak

Drawing upon data from the Deployment Life Study, this article examines whether female military spouses (SPs) are disadvantaged relative to matched civilian peers in terms of hours worked and earnings, paying particular attention to gaps among the highest educated women. Female SPs do earn less than comparable civilian peers in terms of raw dollars and percentage earnings. Moreover, military wives who are part of the labor force work as many hours as their civilian counterparts, but still earn significantly less for that work. Contrary to predictions, the most educated SPs are not disproportionately affected compared to spouses with less education. These results suggest that SPs at all education levels could benefit from employment assistance; in particular, women already participating in the labor force may benefit from support in finding higher paying jobs.

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