Related BLS programs | Related articles
December 2007, Vol. 130, No. 12
Are male veterans at greater risk for nonemployment than nonveterans?
Greg A. Greenberg, and Robert A. Rosenheck
Are veterans at greater risk than others for "nonemployment"—unemployment, disability, or dropping out of the labor force—after their military service? It has been hypothesized that military service facilitates post-service employment because it offers skills training, on-the-job experience, and educational benefits1 as well as preferential treatment for some available jobs.2 However, it has also been argued that military service hinders employment due to the negative health effects of military service,3 foregone civilian training, lost seniority,4 and the interruptions in the development of vocational and social networks.5 Selection processes for military service may play an even more important role than post-military factors in determining post-discharge labor market experiences.6
Clarification of the effects of these factors is difficult, in part, because of differences in circumstances across military cohorts and racial/ethnic groups. While 75 percent of all eligible men served in World War II, there is evidence that deferments and exemptions allowed men with more education to avoid service during the Vietnam era, as only 40.5 percent of eligible men served.7 The advent of the all-volunteer force (AVF) in the 1970s may have initially encouraged enlistment among disadvantaged youth, but as the size of the Armed Forces has declined and pay has increased, selectivity may also have increased.8 The value of government benefits from military service also varies over time.9 During the Vietnam era, nonveterans could often obtain virtually the same government educational benefits as veterans,10 but civilian benefits have become less available in recent years.
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 2007 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
Read abstract Download full article in PDF (277K)
1 Joshua Angrist and Alan Krueger, "Why do World War II Veterans Earn More than Nonveterans," Journal of Labor Economics, January 1994, pp. 74–97; Harley Browning, Sally C. Lopreato, and Dudley L. Poston, "Income and Veteran Status: Variations among Mexican Americans, Blacks, and Anglos," American Sociological Review, Febuary 1973, pp. 74–85; Richard Bryant, V. A. Samaranayake, and Allen Wilhite, "The Effect of Military Service on the Subsequent Civilian Wage of the Post-Vietnam Veteran," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, spring 1993, pp. 15–31; Sharon R. Cohany, "Employment and unemployment among Vietnam-era veterans," Monthly Labor Review, April 1990, pp. 22–29; Sharon R. Cohany, "The Vietnam-era cohort: employment and earnings," Monthly Labor Review, June 1992, pp. 3–15; Richard T. Cooney, Mady W. Segal, David R. Segal, and William W. Falk, "Racial Differences in the Impact of Military Service on the Socioeconomic Status of Women Veterans," Armed Forces & Society, September 2003, pp. 53–86; Phillips Cutright, "The Civilian Earnings of White and Black Draftees and Nonveterans," American Sociological Review, June 1974, pp. 317–27; Dennis De Tray, "Veteran Status as a Screening Device," The American Economic Review, March 1982, pp. 133–42; Hyder Lakhani, "The Socioeconomic Benefits of Active Military Service to Reservists," Armed Forces & Society, 24, 4 (Summer 1998, pp. 549–61); Jay D. Teachman and R. A. Vaughn Call, "The Effect of Military Service on Educational, Occupational, and Income Attainment," Social Science Research, March 1996, pp. 1–31.
2 Joshua Angrist, "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service using Social Security Data on Military Applicant," Econometrica, March 1998, pp. 249–88; Angrist et al., "Why do World War II Veterans Earn More than Nonveterans"; Cohany, "The Vietnam-Era Cohort"; De Tray, "Veteran Status as a Screening Device."
3 Cohany, "The Vietnam-era cohort: employment and earnings"; Amy Iverson, Vasilis Nikolaou, Neil Greenberg, Catherin Unwin, Lisa Hull, Mathew Hotopf, Christopher Dandeker, John Ross, and Simon Wessely, "What Happens to British Veterans When They Leave the Armed Forces?," The European Journal of Public Health, August 2005, pp. 175–84; Richard A. Kulka, William E. Schlenger, John A. Fairbank, Richard L. Hough, B. Kathleen Jordan, Charles R. Marmar, and Daniel S. Weiss, Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation: Report of Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (New York, Brunner/Mazel, 1990); Elizabeth Savoca E and Robert Rosenheck, "The Civilian Labor Market Experiences of Vietnam-Era Veterans: The Influence of Psychiatric Disorders, Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, December 2000, pp. 199–207.
4 Mark Berger and Barry T. Hirsch, "The Civilian Earnings Experience of Vietnam-Era Veterans," The Journal of Human Resources, fall 1983, pp. 455–79; Browning et al., "Income and Veteran Status"; Cohany, "The Vietnam-era cohort"; Cutright, "The Civilian Earnings of White and Black Draftees and Nonveterans"; Lakhani, "The Socioeconomic Benefits of Active Military Service to Reservists."
5 Browning, et al., "Income and Veteran Status"; Jere Cohen, David R. Segal, and Lloyd V. Temme, "The Impact of Education on Vietnam-Era Veterans’ Occupational Attainment," Social Science Quarterly, June 1992, pp. 397–409; Jay D. Teachman and Lucky M. Tedrow, "Wages, Earnings, and Occupational Status: Did World War II Veterans Receive a Premium?" Social Science Research, December 2003, pp. 581–605; Jay D. Teachman, "Military Service During the Vietnam Era: Were there Consequences for Subsequent Civilian Earnings," Social Forces, December 2004, pp. 709–30.
6 Angrist et al., "Why do World War II Veterans Earn More than Nonveterans?"; Cohany, "Employment and unemployment among Vietnam-era veterans"; Barry T. Hirsch and Stephen L. Mehay, "Evaluating the Labor Market Performance of Veterans Using a Matched Comparison Group Design," Journal of Human Resources, summer 2003, pp. 673–700; Teachman et al., "The Effect of Military Service on Educational, Occupational, and Income Attainment"; Teachman et al., "Wages, Earnings, and Occupational Status."
7 Angrist et al., "Why do World War II Veterans Earn More than Nonveterans"; Cohany, "The Vietnam-era cohort"; Melvin Small, "The Domestic Course of the War," in John W. Chambers II, ed., The Oxford Companion to American Military History (New York, Oxford UP, 1999), pp. 763–65.
8 Paul F. Hogan, Paul F. Curtis, J. Simon, and John T. Warner, "Sustaining the Force in an Era of Transformation," in Barbara A. Bicksler, Curtis L. Gilroy, and John T. Warner, ed., The All Volunteer Force: Thirty Years of Service (Washington, DC, Brassey’s, 2004), pp. 57–89.
9 Robert J. Sampson and John L. Laub, "Socioeconomic Achievement in the Life Course of Disadvantaged Men: Military Service as a Turning Point, Circa 1940–1965," American Sociological Review, June 1996, pp. 347–67; Saul Schwartz, "The Relative Earnings of Vietnam and Korean-Era Veterans," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, July 1986, pp. 564–72; Teachman et al., "The Effect of Military Service on Educational, Occupational, and Income Attainment."
10 Cooney et al., "Racial Differences in the Impact of Military Service on the Socioeconomic Status of Women Veterans"; and Cohen et al., "The Impact of Education on Vietnam-Era Veterans’ Occupational Attainment."
Related BLS programs
Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers