Unpacking the relationship between adolescent employment and antisocial behavior: A matched samples comparison

Robert Apel, Shawn Bushway, Robert Brame, Amelia M. Haviland, Daniel S. Nagin, Ray Paternoster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


A large body of research has consistently found that intensive employment during the school year is associated with heightened antisocial behavior. These findings have been influential in prompting policy recommendations to establish stricter limits on the number of hours that students can work during the school year. We reexamine the linkage between first-time work at age 16 during the school year and problem behaviors. Our analysis uses group-based trajectory modeling to stratify youths based on their developmental history of crime and substance abuse. This stratification serves to control for preexisting differences between workers and nonworkers and permits us to examine whether the effect of work on problem behaviors depends on the developmental history of those behaviors. Contrary to most prior research we find no overall effect of working on either criminal behavior or substance abuse. However, we do find some indication that work may have a salutary effect on these behaviors for some individuals who had followed trajectories of heightened criminal activity or substance abuse prior to their working for the first time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-97
Number of pages31
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


  • Adolescent employment
  • Delinquent offending
  • Developmental trajectories
  • Group-specific treatment effects


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