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Some parents survive and some don't: The Army and the family as “greedy institutions”

APA Citation:

Strader, E. & Smith, M. (2022). Some parents survive and some don't: The Army and the family as "greedy institutions". Public Administration Review, 82(3), 446-458. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13467

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined differences in job performance (i.e., promoted to sergeant, terminated due to poor performance) and retention (i.e., leave prematurely due to family reasons) among enlisted Soldiers without a college degree based on demographic factors such as gender, parental status (i.e., childless, became parents during service, enlisted as parents, had additional children during service), and marital status. Analyses were conducted using the administrative data of Soldiers who enlisted between 2002 and 2009 (N = 481,844). Gender, parental status, and marital status contributed differently to job performance and job retention.



Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Secondary Analysis
Quantitative Study


Strader, Eiko, Smith, Capt Margaret


The military and the family are “greedy institutions” that require the full attention of their members. Being aware of the tension between work and family, the United States military has developed family support policies that are more generous than legally required to ensure personnel readiness. However, family formation remains a major obstacle for recruitment, retention, and integration of women. Using administrative data, this research shows that fathers were more likely to leave prematurely for family reasons than childless men, particularly among non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native men. However, women who gave birth while in service were much less likely to leave for work-family reasons than childless women, while the same could not be said for women who joined as mothers and had no additional children. The results reflect the gendered logic of the organization and the narrow conceptualization of work–family conflict, both of which perpetuate gender-role stereotypes.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:


Author Affiliation:

Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, The George Washington University, ES
Army Cyber Institute, MS


military families, retention, work-family conflict

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  June 2022

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