Accession and Attrition of Prior-Service Reservists

by M. Susan Marquis, Sheila Nataraj Kirby


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This Note documents a briefing about research on prior-service reservists that was designed to complement previous research about the behavior of non-prior-service reservists. The research investigates accession into the reserves among two groups of individuals with prior military service: (1) those who served on active duty in the Army, and (2) those who served in the Army Reserve or Army National Guard and left reserve service. The research then examines the attrition decision among persons from these two groups who do join (or rejoin) the Army Reserve or Army National Guard. It considers what prior-service personnel enter the reserves, when, why, and the match between their active and reserve occupational specialties. It also considers who leaves the reserves, when, why, and how attrition patterns differ by specialty. The results suggest that targeted recruiting may have more effect on attrition rates than do changes in compensation policies. However, affiliation bonuses appear to be an effective means of recruiting those leaving active service, and, at least for the Army Reserve, in decreasing attrition among those who receive a bonus.

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.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.