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Gone to war: have deployments increased divorces?


  • Sebastian Negrusa


  • Brighita Negrusa


  • James Hosek



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. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Negrusa & Brighita Negrusa & James Hosek, 2014. "Gone to war: have deployments increased divorces?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 473-496, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:27:y:2014:i:2:p:473-496
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-013-0485-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joshua D. Angrist & John H. Johnson IV, 2000. "Effects of Work-Related Absences on Families: Evidence from the Gulf War," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 41-58, October.
    2. Zhenchao Qian, 1998. "Changes in assortative mating: The impact of age and education, 1970–1890," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(3), pages 279-292, August.
    3. Cesur, Resul & Sabia, Joseph J. & Tekin, Erdal, 2013. "The psychological costs of war: Military combat and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 51-65.
    4. Denise Doiron & Silvia Mendolia, 2012. "The impact of job loss on family dissolution," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(1), pages 367-398, January.
    5. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 11-26, Part II, .
    6. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 293-329, January.
    7. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-1187, December.
    8. Greene, William, 2010. "Testing hypotheses about interaction terms in nonlinear models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 291-296, May.
    9. David S. Lyle, 2006. "Using Military Deployments and Job Assignments to Estimate the Effect of Parental Absences and Household Relocations on Children's Academic Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 319-350, April.
    10. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
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    Cited by:

    1. P. Wesley Routon, 2017. "Military service and marital dissolution: a trajectory analysis," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 335-355, March.
    2. Brighita Negrusa & Sebastian Negrusa, 2014. "Home Front: Post-Deployment Mental Health and Divorces," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(3), pages 895-916, June.

    More about this item


    Divorce; Work-related absences; Unanticipated deployment shocks; J12; D10; C41;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies


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