Effects of Work-Related Absences on Families: Evidence from the Gulf War
31 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 1998 Last revised: 20 Jun 2010
Date Written: August 1998
Labor economists and policy makers have long been interested in work-family interactions. Work generates income but also reduces the time families have to spend together. Many soldiers who were mobilized for Gulf War service were away from home for an extended period of time, so Gulf War mobilization makes for an interesting case study of work-related absences by both husbands and wives. We estimate the effect of Gulf War deployment on employment rates for soldiers' spouses, divorce rates, and disability rates among soldiers' children. Data from the 1992 Survey of Officers and Enlisted Personnel show that personnel deployed to the Gulf spent 3-6 more months away from home than non-deployed personnel. The estimates suggest that deployments of a male soldier reduced wives' employment rates, probably because of added child care responsibilities. Deployment of a female soldier left husbands' employment rates unchanged, but female deployment is associated with significantly higher post-deployment divorce rates. Finally sample of men and women show no significant increase in the incidence of temporary disabilities among the children of deployed personnel. This may be because for most military families, deployment was not associated with a change in living standards.
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