The quality of work and youth mental health

Jeylan T. Mortimer, Carolyn Harley, Jeremy Staff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


According to one prominent perspective, part-time work places adolescents at risk because it confronts them with stressors for which they are unprepared and limits participation in more developmentally beneficial activities. However, if working signifies progress in moving toward adulthood, it could promote psychological well-being. Although the controversy surrounding teenage work is focused on employment status and intensity, research on adults indicates that it is the quality of work experience that matters for psychological functioning. This research examines key features of work experience and adolescents' depressive affect and well-being, including both selection and socialization processes. Based on data from the St. Paul Youth Development Study, the analysis indicates that the quality of high school work experience does have significant contemporaneous consequences for the mental states of young people but has little effect on their long-term mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-197+135-136
JournalWork and Occupations
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2002


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