96 Teenagers and Working

Martha Lally and Suzanne Valentine-French

Many adolescents work either summer jobs, or during the school year. Holding a job may offer teenagers extra funds, the opportunity to learn new skills, ideas about future careers, and perhaps the true value of money. However, there are numerous concerns about teenagers working, especially during the school year. A long-standing concern is that that it “engenders precocious maturity of more adult-like roles and problem behaviors” (Staff, VanEseltine, Woolnough, Silver, & Burrington, 2011, p. 150). Several studies have found that working more than 20 hours per week can lead to declines in grades, a general disengagement from school (Staff, Schulenberg, & Bachman, 2010; Lee & Staff, 2007; Marsh & Kleitman, 2005), an increase in substance abuse (Longest & Shanahan, 2007), engaging in earlier sexual behavior, and pregnancy (Staff et al., 2011).

A young woman working in a coffee shop.
Figure 6.14: Young woman working in a coffee shop.

However, like many employee groups teens have seen a drop in the number of jobs. Employment rates in Canada are lower for youth than for older Canadians. Among youth not in school full-time, 60.2% of those aged 15 to 19 were employed in 2019. By contrast, 79.8% of Canadians aged 20 to 24 and 84.2% of individuals ages 25 to 30 were employed.

A graph with labour market indicators for youth and older individuals
Figure 6.15: Labour market indicators for youth and older individuals.

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Teenagers and Working by Martha Lally and Suzanne Valentine-French is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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