Gone to war: have deployments increased divorces?
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Owing to the armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, members of the US military have experienced very high rates of deployment overseas. Because military personnel have little to no control over their deployments, the military setting offers a unique opportunity to study the causal effect of major disruptions on marital dissolution. In this paper, we use longitudinal individual-level administrative data from 1999 to 2008 and find that an additional month in deployment increases the divorce hazard of military families, with females being more affected. A standard conceptual framework of marital formation and dissolution predicts a differential effect of these types of shocks depending on the degree to which they are anticipated when a couple gets married. Consistent with this prediction, we find a larger effect for couples married before 9/11, who clearly expected a lower risk of deployment than what they faced post 9/11.
KeywordsDivorce Work-related absences Unanticipated deployment shocks
JEL codesJ12 D10 C41
We especially thank Beth Asch, Benjamin Karney, David Loughran, Linda G. Martin, Francisco Martorell, Juergen Maurer, Amalia R. Miller, Sonia Oreffice, John T. Warner and other colleagues at RAND and seminar participants at the Western Economic Association Annual Conference, US Naval Academy, University of Alicante and Aarhus University for their thoughtful suggestions. All remaining errors are our own.
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