Adolescence and adult work in the twenty-first century

Michael J. Shanahan, Jeylan T. Mortimer, Helga Kru¨ger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The transition from school to work is a story that meshes the life histories of youth and the economic and social development of societies. Drawing on reports from diverse regions of the world, this article describes the range of adolescent experiences as they encompass the completion of school and the commencement of adult work. As the 21st century begins, major threats to the preparation of youth for adult work include deficiencies in schools, hazards of the informal work sector, a lack of clear connections between school and work, and the misuse or underutilization of technology. Yet this transition is also a story of optimism, as the significance of youth for economic and social development is increasingly appreciated at the national and international levels. Accordingly, this article considers the broad policy implications of the survey and then details the lines of action that address challenges to the preparation of youth for adult work. Although many regions of the world share common challenges, the integration of youth into the 21st century world of work will depend on how each country formulates a unique response that is sensitive to its demographic profile, social institutions, cultural heritage, and economic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-120
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


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