The Effects of Job Relocation on Spousal Careers: Evidence from Military Change of Station Moves
40 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 26, 2017
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 two or three years, may substantially limit the ability of military spouses to accumulate human capital over time.
Keywords: Military Spouses, Household Migration, Dual-Earner Households, Military Moves
JEL Classification: H56, R23, J45, J16, J64
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation