Follow-up of Participants in the 1978 Selected Reserve Reenlistment Bonus Test

by David W. Grissmer, John R. Hiller


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Describes the long-term results of a national experiment designed to study factors that influence reenlistment decisions of Army Reserve and National Guard personnel. In the experiment, 15,000 reservists making reenlistment decisions in 1978 served as test participants. An original evaluation estimated the effect of bonus payments given for 3-year terms ($900) or 6-year terms ($1,800) on reenlistment rates and length of commitment. This Note estimates the long-term effect of the bonus on reserve participation using longitudinal data collected 3.25 years after original reenlistment decisions. While the bonus only raised reenlistment rates from 38.4 to 40.6 percent, it significantly lengthened the average committed term of service from 1.3 to 4.4 years. Longitudinal tracking of test participants indicates a significant strength gain will result from the longer-term service commitments. After 3.25 years from the beginning of the test, the bonus group retained 32.0 percent of the original group, while the control group retained only 25.7 percent.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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