U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Using State Child Labor Laws to Identify the Causal Effect of Youth Employment on Deviant Behavior and Academic Achievement

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 24 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2008 Pages: 337-362
Robert Apel; Shawn D. Bushway; Raymond Paternoster; Robert Brame; Gary Sweeten
Date Published
December 2008
26 pages
This study examined the changes in behavior associated with the laws governing youth work.
The study found that the work laws examined lead to additional number of hours worked by youth, which then lead to increased high school dropout but decreased delinquency. Although counterintuitive, this result was noted to be consistent with existing evidence about the effect of employment on crime for adults and the impact of dropout on youth crime. It is noted that on the basis of prior research findings, employed youth, and especially intensively employed youth, have higher rates of delinquent behavior and lower academic achievement, and therefore scholars have called for limits on the maximum number of hours per week that teenagers are allowed to work. The study utilized a change model with age-graded child labor laws governing the number of hours per week allowed during the school year as instrumental variables. Data were derived from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) to assess the claim that employment and work hours are causally related to adolescent problem behavior. The NLSY97 is a nationally representative sample of 8,984 youth born during the years 1980 through 1984 and residing in the United States. The paper used the first seven waves of geocoded data from the NLSY97. Tables, figures, appendix, and references