Do the Effects of Adolescent Employment Differ by Employment Intensity and Neighborhood Context?

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American Journal of Community Psychology


Research on the effects of adolescent employment on primarily middle-class youth suggests that intense employment, working more than 15 or 20 hours during the school year, is associated with increased participation in risky behavior. Despite these findings, scholars who focus on the development of youth living in low-income urban areas often hypothesize that adolescent employment will have beneficial effects on this population. There is some evidence that adolescent employment is associated with increased educational achievement and adult employment for low-income urban youth. The impact of adolescent employment on future engagement in risky behavior across levels of neighborhood deprivation and employment intensity was investigated on a sample of 1,057 adolescents from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a longitudinal study of neighborhood effects on development. After controlling for individual characteristics, intense employment during adolescence did predict increased use of cigarettes and alcohol and having a greater number of sexual partners 2 years after employment was measured. There were no significant interactions between neighborhood SES and adolescent employment status on involvement in risky behavior. These findings suggest that intense adolescent employment is associated with detrimental developmental outcomes for youth regardless neighborhood context.


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