Adolescent Work Experiences and Family Formation Behavior

A long-standing critique of adolescent employment is that it engenders a precocious maturity of more adult-like roles and behaviors, including school disengagement, substance use, sexual activity, inadequate sleep and exercise, and work-related stress. Though negative effects of high-intensity work on adolescent adjustment have been found, little research has addressed whether such work experiences are associated with precocious family formation behaviors in adolescence, such as sexual intercourse, pregnancy, residential independence, and union formation. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we find that teenagers who spend long hours on the job during the school year are more likely to experience these family formation behaviors earlier than youth who work moderately or not at all.