What Challenges Are Boys Facing, and What Opportunities Exist To Address Those Challenges? Fact Sheet: Employment*. What Factors Increase or Decrease Positive Employment Outcomes Among Boys?


By studying young people’s employment patterns and how employment affects certain aspects of boys’ and girls’ lives, researchers have learned valuable lessons about risk factors — those traits and life experiences that can jeopardize a person’s healthy development — and protective factors — the characteristics and life experiences that can increase a person’s likelihood of positive outcomes.

Reasons young people may struggle with employment:

  • Hard drug use among boys is related to poor job quality outcomes as much as 10 years after high school. Poor job quality may mean lower skill employment or jobs with fewer benefits, such as health insurance.(13)
  • Employment that raises social status among youth leads to increased delinquency.(14)
  • Working more than 20 hours per week is associated with higher rates of dropping out of high school.(15)
  • Boys and girls who age out of foster care tend to be unemployed or underemployed as young adults.(16)

Family, school, and community factors that affect young people’s employment:

  • Youth in two-parent families are more likely to work than those in single-parent families.(17)
  • Youth who say their peers intend to go to college are more likely to be employed.(18)
  • Youth in low-income households are less likely to be employed than those in households with higher incomes.(19)
  • Youth who live in areas with high unemployment or high poverty rates have a lower probability of employment.(20)

Employment-related factors that help young people succeed:

  • Working less than 20 hours per week is associated with positive family relationships.(21)
  • Students who work in order to save money for college report the most positive influence from working, including attending college.(22)
  • When students’ jobs support academic achievement and offer genuine opportunities to learn something useful, employment can reduce delinquency.(23)
  • Compatibility between work and school is related to less drinking and lower probability of arrest.(24)
  • On the contrary, jobs in which students worked alone and were paid high wages were associated with increased delinquent behavior.(25)

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