Socioeconomic status and performance in the US Army and US Marine Corps
Booth, Stefan J.
Schmiegel, Kevin M.
Cook, Michael D.
Eitelberg, Mark J.
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The purpose or this study was to examine socioeconomic status (SES) of recruits in the Army and Marine Corps and to analyze the relationship between a recruit's SES background and his or her performance in the military over time. Data for this study were obtained from three sources: the Department of Defense Survey of Recruit Socioeconomic Backgrounds (SES survey), Military Entrance Processing Command enlisted cohort files, and personnel data files provided by the Army and Marine Corps. After merging these data files, the SES survey respondents were tracked longitudinally, and several analyses were undertaken to assess the relationship between SES and performance in the military. The results of this research show that recruits in both services come from slightly lower SES backgrounds than do youths in the general population; and, most of this difference can be explained by the fact that soldiers and Marines are consistently underrepresented in the highest measures or correlates of SES and overrepresented in the lowest ones. Additionally, it was found that, while SES is not a strong predictor of first-term enlisted attrition in either service, it does explain differences in recruits' performance on-the-job in the Marine Corps. Further research is recommended, especially that which incorporates supervisors' ratings of military performance.
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