Divorce, Race, and Military Service: More Than Equal Pay and Equal Opportunity


  • This article edited by David Johnson.

Department of Sociology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9081 (Jay.Teachman@wwu.edu).


Several researchers have suggested that the persistently higher rate of divorce among Blacks may be due to hard-to-measure concepts such as culture or norms. To attack this problem, we use data from the NLSY-79 to examine the risk of divorce among enlisted active-duty military servicemen where economic differences and the negative effects of discrimination are minimized. Our results indicate that military service reduces the likelihood of marital dissolution among Blacks serving in the Army and that this finding is not likely the result of unobserved selectivity. We attribute the latter finding to the fact that the Army has a well-defined career ladder for Blacks that fully integrates them into leadership positions providing role models and positive work environments that reduce stress associated with discrimination and promote stable marriages.