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THE EFFECTS OF JOB RELOCATION ON SPOUSAL CAREERS: EVIDENCE FROM MILITARY CHANGE OF STATION MOVES

Jeremy Burke and Amalia Miller ()

Economic Inquiry, 2018, vol. 56, issue 2, 1261-1277

Abstract: We investigate the impact of military job relocation on spousal earnings and employment by creating a unique longitudinal database that tracks over 900,000 military spouses over the period 2001–2012, based on data from two administrative sources—military records on personnel and their dependents, and Social Security earnings records. This database allows us to estimate the effects of military change of station moves controlling for some key observable characteristics of the service‐member and household and controlling for individual spouse fixed effects. We find that military moves cause a substantial decline in spousal earnings in the year of the move, on the order of $2,100, or 14% of average spousal earnings. Moves also increase the likelihood that the spouse has no earnings for the year. We find larger earnings reductions for moves that cross state lines, and for older spouses, male spouses, and those with young children. The career costs persist over time and spouses continue to experience significantly lower earnings 2 years after the move. This persistence, combined with the typical military member experiencing a change of station move every 2 or 3 years, may substantially limit the ability of military spouses to accumulate human capital over time. (JEL H56, R23, J45, J16, J64)

Date: 2018
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