The Effects of Work Intensity on Adolescent Mental Health, Achievement, and Behavioral Adjustment: New Evidence from a Prospective Study

Jeylan T. Mortimer, Michael D. Finch, Seongryeol Ryu, Michael J. Shanahan, Kathleen T. Call

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article examines the effects of work intensity on adolescent mental health, academic achievement, and behavioral adjustment. Questionnaire data were collected yearly from an initial panel of 1,000 randomly selected ninth graders (14-15 years old). Consistent with other studies, students who worked at higher intensity engaged in more alcohol use. The methodological strengths of this research (a representative panel studied prospectively over a 4-year period with minimal attrition and an analysis incorporating key control and lagged variables) provide strong evidence that adolescent work fosters alcohol use. The contention that work of high intensity has deleterious effects on mental health, academic achievement, and 2 other indicators of behavioral adjustment did not withstand our stringent tests. However, high school seniors who worked at moderate intensity (1-20 hours per week) had higher grades than both nonworkers and students who worked more hours per week.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1243-1261
Number of pages19
JournalChild development
Volume67
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1996

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