In this chapter, we consider the connections between macro-level changes in work and family structures in the U.S. and the micro-level attitudes of adolescents regarding future work and family lives. Using nationally representative data, we first examine whether adolescents' orientations toward work and family changed in the last two decades. With this national picture in mind, we then examine data from a community panel study of adolescents to assess whether adolescents anticipate conflict between work and family roles, how they respond to such concerns, and what difficulties they have in integrating work and family during early adulthood. We find that adolescents remain highly interested in work and family roles, and have rising aspirations for educational attainment and extrinsic work rewards. However, the age at which they expect to marry has risen, and support for both cohabitation and childbearing outside of marriage has grown over this period. Although a minority of high school seniors, mostly females, anticipate that their future family roles will interfere with their career plans, there is evidence that young people are planning the timing of their investments in education, work, and family roles in order to avoid difficulties. As adolescents enter young adulthood, they become much more likely to anticipate that their family roles will interfere with their career plans, and among those who have made family transitions, the incidence of work-family conflict is high.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant, Work Experience and Mental Health: A Panel Study of Youth, from the National Institute of Mental Health (M42843).