Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Curtis Simon

Committee Member

Devon Gorry

Committee Member

Jorge Garcia

Committee Member

Jonathan Leganza


The economic outcomes of military veterans are a persistent source of interest for economists, policy analysts, and the public in the United States. Veterans' outcomes bear directly on the decision of prospective recruits to join the military and current service-members to exit the military, informing policymakers about the long-term sustainability of the all-volunteer force. This dissertation focuses on veterans' economic outcomes by examining their relationship with market entry conditions and the location decisions veterans make when they exit the military.

Chapter 1 examines the earnings and employment outcomes of new military veterans associated with market entry conditions. This chapter intersects two strands of literature: labor outcomes associated with military service and earnings associated with market entry conditions. In doing so, it extends the literature in two ways. First, it uses a previously unused group to examine market entry conditions on earnings, and second, it provides insight into whether new military veterans more closely resemble new or experienced civilian workers. This chapter uses American Community Survey data from 2003-2012 to estimate the earnings and employment effects of local market conditions at entry, finding that new military veterans are half as sensitive to entry conditions as comparable civilians with a 1% point increase in unemployment corresponding to a 1.36% point reduction in annual wages for veterans compared to 2.52% points for comparable civilians. Further, the same change in unemployment raises the probability of new veterans being unemployed and enrolled in school, by 0.56% points and 0.73% points, respectively.

Geographic location is a crucial determinant of economic outcomes. Chapter 2 investigates the potential determinants of veterans' location choices after separating from the military, the presence of veteran social networks, and these networks' influence on location choices. Through shared military experience, social networks may explain, in part, the migration and location behavior of veterans. This chapter finds evidence of social networks among military veterans and these networks' influence veteran location decisions. A 1% point increase in a state's share of established veterans corresponds to a 0.54% point increase in its share of new veterans and makes new veterans 0.2% points more likely to choose that state. Further, one veteran moving to a location corresponds to 1.4 comparable veterans making the same move, about 3.5 times larger than the effect for civilians.



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