Millennials and the World of Work: Experiences in Paid Work During Adolescence
- 935 Downloads
This article considers some important questions faced by youth as they enter and adapt to paid work. We focus on two key questions: (1) how many hours should teenagers work during the school year and (2) what available jobs are desirable?
To help answer these questions, we review studies that have examined the effects of early work experiences on academic achievement, positive youth development, and health-risk behaviors. We also draw upon nationally representative data from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study to illustrate some new findings on youth employment.
Moderate work hours, especially in jobs of higher-quality, are associated with a broad range of positive developmental outcomes.
These questions are not only important to teenagers and their parents, they also reflect key debates among scholars in sociology, developmental psychology, and economics regarding the potential short- and long-term consequences of early work experiences for social development and socioeconomic achievement.
Although work intensity is an important dimension of adolescent work experience, it is clearly not the only one and we argue that it may not even be the most important one. By focusing on types and qualities of jobs, more can be gained in terms of understanding for whom and under what conditions teenage work does provide benefits for and detriments to youth development.
KeywordsTeenage employment School-to-work transition School achievement Problem behaviors Work quality Life course studies
The first author gratefully acknowledges support from a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award in Population Research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (K01 HD054467). This paper uses data from the Monitoring the Future study, which is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA01411); the second author gratefully acknowledges support from this grant. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the sponsors. We also wish to acknowledge our coauthors on several related projects that we describe in this review: Jerald G. Bachman, Emily Messersmith, D. Wayne Osgood, and Michael Parks.
- Aronson, P. J., Mortimer, J. T., Zierman, C., & Hacker, M. (1996). Generational differences in early work experiences and evaluations. In J. T. Mortimer & M. Finch (Eds.), Adolescents, work, and family: An intergenerational developmental analysis (pp. 25–62). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Bachman, J. G., O’Malley, P. M., Schulenberg, J. E., Johnston, L. D., Freedman-Doan, P., & Messersmith, E. E. (2008). The education–drug use connection: How successes and failures in school relate to adolescent smoking, drinking, drug use, and delinquency. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates/Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Bachman, J. G., Safron, D. J., Sy, S. R., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2003). Wishing to work: New perspectives on how adolescents’ part-time work intensity is linked with educational disengagement, drug use, and other problem behaviours. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(4), 301–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Greenberger, E. (1988). Working in teenage America. In J. T. Mortimer & K. M. Borman (Eds.), Work experience and psychological development through the life span (pp. 21–50). Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
- Greenberger, E., & Steinberg, L. D. (1986). When teenagers work: The psychological and social costs of teenage employment. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2008a). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2007. Volume I: Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 08-6418A). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
- Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2008b). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2007. Volume II: College students and adults ages 19–45 (NIH Publication No. 08-6418B). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
- Mortimer, J. T. (2003). Working and growing up in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Mortimer, J. T., & Johnson, M. K. (1998). New perspectives on adolescent work and the transition to adulthood. In R. Jessor (Ed.), New perspectives on adolescent risk behavior. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- National Research Council. (1998). Youth at work: Health, safety, and development of working children and adolescents in the United States. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Newcomb, M. D., & Bentler, P. M. (1988). Consequences of adolescent drug use: Impact on the lives of young adults. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Newman, K. S. (1999). No shame in my game. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and the Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Osgood, D. W. (1999). Having the time of their lives: All work and no play? In A. Booth, A. C. Crouter, & M. J. Shanahan (Eds.), Transitions to adulthood in a changing economy: No work, no family, no future? (pp. 176–186). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Rothstein, D. S. (2007). High school employment and youths’ academic achievement. The Journal of Human Resources, 42(1), 194–213.Google Scholar
- Schulenberg, J. E., & Bachman, J. G. (1993). Hours on the job? Not so bad for some types of jobs: The quality of work and substance use, affect and stress. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
- Staff, J., Messersmith, E. E., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2009). Adolescents and the world of work. In R. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed., pp. 270–313). New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
- Staff, J., Osgood, D. W., Schulenberg, J., Bachman, J., & Messersmith, E. (2006). Explaining the relationship between employment and juvenile delinquency. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, November 1–4, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
- Staff, J., Schulenberg, J., & Bachman, J. (2008). Explaining the academic engagement and performance of employed youth. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, March 6–9.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Labor. (2000). Report on the youth labor force. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar