RAND Corp.: Military marriages suffer from deployments

The root finding of a large study published recently in the Journal of Population Economics emerges “loud and clear,” says one of its authors, and what it posits most unequivocally is this: Military marriages are at dire risk from combat deployments by one or both spouses to Iraq or Afghanistan.

That conclusion on military divorce might not sound particularly surprising to many readers in Georgia or elsewhere across the country. It does, though, stand as a starkly contrary finding to what emerged from a prior study issued under the aegis of the same authority several years ago.

That authority is the RAND Corporation, a global think tank that researches and publishes findings on a wide assortment of military and other government-related matters. A 2007 RAND study set forth a conclusion that surprised many people, namely, that deployments actually strengthen many military marriages.

RAND researchers now say that this is simply not the case in the vast majority of cases. Evidence that has emerged from scrutiny of more than 460,000 military marriages over a recent decade indicates, rather, that deployments flatly up the odds for divorce rather than strengthen unions.

“Couples form expectations at the time of marriage,” says economist and study co-author Sebastian Negrusa, a now-former RAND employee. Negrusa states that those expectations can be unduly challenged by deployments, with the study noting that particularly lengthy and risk-ridden absences “are sources of shocks to the value of military marriages.”

Female military members are at especially high risk for divorce, both in instances when they are being deployed to combat zones and in the absence of deployment.

The recent study has been termed the most comprehensive yet done on military divorce.

Source: USA TODAY: “Study: Long, frequent deployments hurt military marriages,” Gregg Zoroya, Sept. 3, 2013

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