Latinos and the Economy

Part of the series Immigrants and Minorities, Politics and Policy pp 193-209


Latino Veterans and Income: Are There Gains from Military Service?

  • David L. LealAffiliated withUniversity of Texas at Austin Email author 
  • , Curt NicholsAffiliated withBaylor University
  • , Jeremy M. TeigenAffiliated withRamapo College

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Using national cross-sectional data from 2006 through 2009, we test hypotheses concerning the effects of military service on later-life earnings for men. The results suggest that serving in the armed forces augments or penalizes civilian income later in the life cycle depending on race and ethnicity when controlling for formal educational attainment. Although some of the results for race and ethnicity vary according to model specification, we conclude that Latino veterans earn more money than nonveteran Latinos. Further, our data imply that age does not substantially condition the influence of military service on earnings after discharge. Past research has conceptualized the military experience in various ways vis-à-vis income: negatively, as a “tax” or “disruption,” or positively, as an enhancement of “social capital,” serving as a “bridging environment,” or as a “screening device” to signal employability. Our results suggest that these perspectives should be seen as context dependent related to the individuals’ race and ethnicity.