Being All They Can Be? Earnings and Employment Status Outcomes of Immigrants with U.S. Military Experience

Catherine N. Barry, University of California, Berkeley

Though hundreds of thousands of immigrants served the U.S. military since its inception, this study is the first to examine socioeconomic outcomes of immigrant veterans outside of a historical context. An analysis of the 2006 American Communities Survey examines the earnings and employment status of immigrants with previous U.S. military experience (veterans) and those without (non-veterans). This study provides limited support for predictions from human capital theory gains for immigrant veterans. Immigrant veteran employment odds do not differ from non-veteran peers. However, immigrant veterans have greater earnings than non-veteran immigrants after controlling for race/ethnicity, age and human capital factors such as education, work disability, years in the U.S. and English ability. Veteran status benefits the earnings of immigrants. Further analyses demonstrate that working for the public sector mediates the effect of veteran status on earnings, indicating that veterans' preference laws and job-specific human capital gains may underlie the advantage.

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Presented in Session 118: Military Service, Work and the Life Course