Wage Growth in the Civilian Careers of Military Retirees

By David S. Loughran | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
CONCLUSIONS

This report highlights several important features of the civilian labor market experience of military retirees. Contrary to a simple model of human capital accumulation and recent empirical research, the wages of military retirees do not grow appreciably faster than the wages of observationally similar civilians over the course of their civilian careers.

The research for this study, like the recent research on the earnings of immigrants, has emphasized the importance of controlling for cohort effects when making inferences about relative wage growth. The analysis in this report shows that, in fact, cohort effects are quite strong in the retiree population; more-recent retirees earn civilian wages that are considerably lower than those of retirees who separated from the military in the 1970s. Despite earning comparatively low wages, however, retirees seem to find the transition to civilian life to be fairly painless; they find full-time work quickly and report a high level of satisfaction with their civilian lives. Among the findings in this report, the apparent decline in relative retiree wages over the 1970s and 1980s is perhaps the most puzzling and deserving of future research.

Although this report offers a more-accurate depiction of the postservice earnings experience of military retirees than was previously available, it does not answer the important question of whether the military's current pension system is an efficient component of overall compensation in the sense that it accomplishes desired retention objectives at least cost. On observable grounds, it appears that military personnel suffer a considerable decline in wages upon separa

-53-

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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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