HHS/ASPE. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.Background

ASPE FACT SHEET

Vulnerable Youth and the Transition to Adulthood

Young Men and Young Women

July 2009

This Research Brief is part of a larger project:
Vulnerable Youth and the Transistion to Adulthood

This Research Brief is available on the Internet at:
http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/VulnerableYouth/6/index.shtml

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About This Fact Sheet
This fact sheet was prepared by Erica H. Zielewski of the Urban Institute, under contract to ASPE, as part of a series on vulnerable youth and the transition to adulthood.  The project examined the role of different aspects of youth vulnerability and risk-taking behaviors on several outcomes for young adults.  The data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort.  This survey, funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, follows a sample of adolescents in 1997 into young adulthood with annual interviews that capture their education, employment, family formation, and other behaviors.  The analyses in this series use the subset of youth born in 1980-81, who were 15-17 years old when first interviewed in 1997.  Outcomes are obtained by using the annual data through 2005 when these young adults were 23-25 years old.

The author acknowledges the comments of Olivia Golden, Jennifer Macomber, and Michael Pergamit of the Urban Institute.  Also from the Urban Institute, Tracy Vericker helped conceptualize the project and Daniel Kuehn performed the data work and provided technical assistance.  Additional information regarding this study can be obtained from the Federal Project Officers:  Flavio Menasce (202-260-0384, Flavio.Menasce@hhs.gov), Susan Hauan (202-690-8698, Susan.Hauan@hhs.gov), and Annette Rogers (202-690-7882, Annette.Rogers@hhs.gov).

This fact sheet considers differences in behaviors and outcomes between young men and young women as they transition to adulthood.  It also considers whether differences between young men and young women are related to the fact that some women are caring for children.  Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, the analysis compares adolescent risk behaviors and young adult outcomes for young men and women.  Youth of all races and income levels are included and the analysis does not differentiate among them.  All differences discussed below are significantly different at the 95 percent confidence level or above.

FIGURE 1.
Median Annual Earnings by Age

Figure 1. Median Annual Earnings by Age. See text for explanation and data.

Source: Urban Institute estimates of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997.
Notes: Sample sizes: young men, n = 995; young women, n = 1,046; young women with children by 24, n = 460; young women without children by 24, n = 560.
Median earnings exclude youth who did not work and therefore had zero earnings.
Differences in earnings for young men and women at each age are significant at the 95% confidence level or above.
Differences in earnings for young women with and without children are significant at the 95% confidence level or above at ages 21, 22, and 23.

TABLE 1.
Adolescent Risk Behaviors and Early Adult Outcomes for Male and Female Youth
  Male youth Female youth Female youth with children at 24 Female youth without children at 24 All youth
  (n = 995) (n = 1,046) (n = 460) (n = 560) (n = 2,041)
Adolescent Risk Behaviors
   Cumulative Risky Behaviors (mean) 3.8* 2.7 -- -- 3.3
   Alcohol by age 13 17%* 12% -- -- 15%
   Marijuana by age 16 36% 33% -- -- 35%
   Used other drugs 29% 26% -- -- 27%
   Sex by age 16 52% 49% -- -- 51%
   Attack someone/get into a fight 35%* 21% -- -- 28%
   Member of a gang 11%* 5% -- -- 9%
   Sell drugs 23%* 15% -- -- 19%
   Destroy property 46%* 25% -- -- 36%
   Steal something worth less than $50 50%* 41% -- -- 46%
   Steal something worth more than $50 19%* 10% -- -- 15%
   Other property crime 23%* 5% -- -- 14%
   Carry a gun 26%* 6% -- -- 16%
   Ever run away 16%* 20% -- -- 18%
Highest Degree Completed by Age 23-24
   None 18% 15% -- -- 17%
   High school diploma 54%* 48% -- -- 51%
   Associate's degree 5%* 7% -- -- 6%
   Four-year college degree or higher 23%* 30% -- -- 26%
In School
   Age 20 63%* 68% -- -- 65%
   Age 21 61%* 67% -- -- 64%
   Age 22 58%* 64% -- -- 61%
   Age 23 54%* 61% -- -- 57%
Median Annual Earning (among Earners)
   Age 18 $11,417* $9,007 $9,920 $8,430 $10,139
   Age 19 $14,347* $11,412 $10,901 $11,412 $12,637
   Age 20 $16,353* $12,302 $11,723 $12,606 $13,876
   Age 21 $19,596* $15,125 $13,082 $16,366 $17,384
   Age 22 $23,237* $18,695 $14,394 $22,133 $21,430
   Age 23 $24,485* $20,288 $16,172 $22,927 $22,411
Employment
   Employed on 24th birthday 81%* 74% -- -- 77%
Connectedness to School or Work between Ages 18 and 24
   Consistently-connected 59% 60% 34% 76% 60%
   Initially-connected 13%* 16% 26% 11% 15%
   Later-connected 17%* 13% 19% 10% 15%
   Never-connected 10% 10% 21% 3% 10%
Parenting
   Has a biological child at age 24 16%* 38% -- -- 27%
Charged with Crime
   Charged with an adult crime by age 24 25%* 8% -- -- 17%
Source: Urban Institute estimates of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997.
Notes: Some youth who did not complete high school may have earned a General Equivalency Diploma. Median earnings exclude youth who did not work and therefore had zero earnings. Health insurance coverage is asked about a point in time and therefore does not capture a youth’s coverage throughout the year. The cumulative risk behavior score is based on the 13 risk behaviors listed beneath it. Adolescent risk behaviors are measured up to age 18, except where otherwise noted.  Never-connected youth may make extremely short connections to school or the labor market.
* Estimates for males are significantly different from females at the 95% confidence level or above.
Estimates for females with and without children by age 24 are significantly different at the 95% confidence level or above.


Endnotes

[1] Cumulative risky behaviors include consuming alcohol before age 13, using marijuana before age 16, using other drugs before age 18, selling illegal drugs before age 18, engaging in sex before age 16, stealing something worth less than $50 before age 18, stealing something worth more than $50 before age 18, destroying property before age 18, committing other property crime before age 18, being a member of a gang before age 18, getting into a fight before age 18, carrying a gun before age 18, and running away from home before age 18.

[2] Youth who did not obtain a high school degree may have obtained a General Equivalency Diploma.

[3] Median earnings exclude youth who did not work and therefore had zero earnings.

[4] Results of a trajectory analyses conducted using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 identify four pathways for youth connectedness to employment or school between ages 18 and 24: consistently-connected, initially-connected, later-connected, and never-connected. For more information see Kuehn, D., Pergamit, M., and Macomber, J., and Vericker, T. (2009). Multiple Pathways Connecting to School and Work. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.


How to Obtain a Printed Copy

To obtain a printed copy of this report, send the title and your mailing information to:

Human Services Policy, Room 404E
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Fax:  (202) 690-6562
Email:  pic@hhs.gov


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Last updated:  08/10/2009