Cover: The Impact of a Spouse Incentive on Employee Retention

The Impact of a Spouse Incentive on Employee Retention

Evidence from a Military Spouse Scholarship

Published Aug 23, 2019

by David Knapp, James V. Marrone, Laura L. Miller, Thomas E. Trail

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Jobs that demand household mobility can make it difficult for spouses in dual-earner couples to find a job following a work-related move, potentially leading to lower employee retention. Active component military personnel are typically required to relocate every two to three years. The authors evaluate the impact of the U.S. Department of Defense's My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Scholarship program, which provides tuition assistance to military spouses for education and training in portable career fields, on the retention of military personnel. Using a propensity-score matching analysis comparing MyCAA households to similarly eligible households of nonusers, they find consistent and sustained evidence for its impact on military service member retention for at least six years following the spouse's receipt of the scholarship. The relationship is larger for service members whose spouses are seeking associate degrees rather than occupational certificates. Moreover, the authors find indications that the cost of using the MyCAA spousal scholarship during 2011–2017 to encourage a service member's continued service was similar to prior cost estimates of using selective bonuses to promote retention during 2002–2007.

This research was sponsored by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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