Wage Growth in the Civilian Careers of Military Retirees

By David S. Loughran | Go to book overview

Chapter One
INTRODUCTION

Between 1990 and 1994, an average of 26,000 individuals retired each year from the U.S. military with 20 or more years of service. Separating from the military at an average age of 43, the overwhelming majority of these retirees are just entering their prime earning years. The civilian earnings of full-time employed males, for example, tend to peak when those individuals are in their early 50s. For a variety of reasons, though, we might expect military retirees to enter the civilian labor force earning wages that are lower than what comparable civilian workers earn. The most frequently cited reason for this wage difference is that military training does not transfer perfectly to civilian occupations and therefore retirees must enter a period of training upon separation before their wages can be expected to catch up with those of their civilian peers. Whereas the postservice earnings of veterans in general have received a great deal of attention in the economics literature, much of this literature focuses on veterans serving for one or two terms of enlistment only. Comparatively little research examines the civilian labor market experience of military retirees who, by definition, have served a minimum of 20 years.

Research on the post-service earnings of veterans is motivated in large part by the idea that the decision to enter and remain in the military is a function of outside civilian labor market opportunities. The success of military compensation policy hinges on the civilian earnings potential of prospective and active military personnel. This is particularly true in the case of the military pension system, which provides an immediate and guaranteed inflation-adjusted annuity to all military retirees. Currently, this annuity amounts to half or more

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Wage Growth in the Civilian Careers of Military Retirees
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Summary xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Acronyms xix
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - Comparing Civilian and Retiree Wage Growth 7
  • Chapter Three - Accounting for Low Retiree Earnings 41
  • Chapter Four - Conclusions 53
  • Appendix - Derivation of Retiree Status from Census Data 55
  • Bibliography 57
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