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More than 1,000,000 service members have been deployed away from their families in the first five years since the start of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although deployments disrupt the contribution of service members to household production, little evidence exists about the effect of deployments on spouses. This dissertation examines the effect of deployment on spousal labor force participation and household well-being. The author finds that deployment reduces spousal labor force participation by 2.8 to 4.9 percentage points, depending on the age of the youngest child in the family. Spouses decrease their labor force participation several months before service members are actually deployed and return to the labor force several months after service members return from deployment. Those spouses who have a high taste for a career and perceive that military life may impose constraints on their job opportunities encourage service members to leave the military.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Background for Examining Deployment Effects

  • Chapter Three

    Theoretical Effects of Deployments

  • Chapter Four

    Data and Measures

  • Chapter Five

    Effect of Deployments on Spousal Labor Force Participation

  • Chapter Six

    Deployment and Retention

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Household Utility Model without Home Production

This document was submitted as a dissertation in August 2008 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of James R. Hosek (Chair), Benjamin Karney, and David Loughran.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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