Balancing Two Lives: The Relationship of Activation, Pay, and Retention Among U.S. Air Force Reserve Pilots


Publication Date: December 2006

Publisher: Pardee Rand Graduate School

Author(s): Brian E. A. Maue

Research Area: Military and defense

Type: Report


Following the events of September 11th, the average days served by the part-time pilots of the Air Force Reserve doubled and, at times, tripled compared to the pre-September 11th rates. These part-time pilots in the Air Force Reserve often work for civilian airlines and earn some of the highest civilian incomes in the nation. Both Congress and the Department of Defense have expressed concerns that if activation causes income losses for activated members, these losses might lead some reservists to leave the reserves earlier than they otherwise would have and might also prevent some potential reservists from ever joining the reserves. This dissertation analyzes whether the increased activation of reserve pilots negatively affects their earnings and retention rates. The author uses information relevant to the dual-employment aspect of part-time, reserve pilots to develop a theoretical model for how an individual might behave when choosing between reserve activation time and civilian employment opportunities. The insights from this model provide the basis for two empirical analyses. The results of both analyses suggest that positive income and retention impacts are associated with increased activation service.