the High School and Beyond surveys, found that the number of hours worked during the sophomore year of school was significantly and positively related to dropping out of school, even after background variables and sophomore school performance and motivation variables were controlled for: That is, the more hours worked during the sophomore year, the greater the likelihood of dropping out of school. In contrast, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Carr et al. (1996) found no significant influence of hours of work during high school on the probability of completing high school. However, Carr et al. (1996) did not confine their analysis to hours of work during the sophomore year as did Marsh (1991). It is possible that heavy investment in work early in high school has a different effect than work during a student's junior or senior year.

At the same time, however, learning to maintain an appropriate balance between school and work, by limiting work hours so that work does not unduly interfere with educational pursuits, might foster continuance in school. If students limit their work hours, the monetary and other benefits of employment may be sustained without disrupting their roles as students. Furthermore, since most young people who go to college (or pursue other kinds of post-secondary education) support themselves, at least partially, while going to college, learning to balance school and work earlier, while still in high school, could be beneficial with respect to higher educational attainment.

Supporting this line of reasoning, Tienda and Ahituv (1996), using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, report that students who have worked the previous year are less likely to quit school between the ages of 17 and 19 than are those who did not work. However, the extent to which youngsters remain in school decreased as the average weekly hours of work rose, after controlling for family background, scholastic aptitude, other background and demographic variables, and previous work experience. Similarly, D'Amico's (1984) analysis of data from the same survey showed that employment at low intensity (defined as fewer than 20 hours per week) was associated with lower school dropout rates among 11th graders.

Among boys in the Youth Development Study, one particular pattern of participation in the labor force during high school proved to be especially salutary: nearly continuous employment limited, on



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement