lifetime of episodic employment in low-wage jobs for a disadvantaged student. For this reason, the issues regarding work for disadvantaged populations deserve special attention.

Poor and minority children and youth need all of the same protections from hazardous work that advantaged children and youth need. In addition, they have some distinctive needs:

  • access to the benefits of employment;

  • protection from discrimination, which may block them from getting better jobs and may affect their health and safety while working; and

  • protection from the hazards of employment in the underground economy (which are beyond the reach of child labor laws).

Studies consistently find that poor and minority youth are less likely to be employed than are middle-income white youth (Ahituv et al., 1994; Carr et al., 1996; Keithly and Deseran, 1995; Lewin-Epstein, 1981; Tienda and Ahituv, 1996); thus, they are less likely to experience either the developmental advantages or the disadvantages of employment during childhood and adolescence. For example, the Current Population Survey (March, 1995) reports that by the age of 17, 82.8 percent of whites have had job experience, compared with 79.1 percent of Hispanics and 69.5 percent of African Americans. On the basis of U.S. 1980 and 1990 census data, O'Regan and Quigley (1996) present evidence that the spatial isolation of minority and poor households decreases employment opportunities. This means that disadvantaged children and adolescents are less frequently exposed to work and, therefore, to work-related threats to their health and safety, but they also receive fewer benefits of employment. Poor youngsters are more likely to need income to help provide for their own or their families' needs. Furthermore, they need added opportunities to develop their human capital if they are to overcome the barriers of poverty and discrimination. Keithly and Deseran (1995) examined the relationships between youth labor force participation and individual, family, and local labor market factors, using 1980 public-use census data. They found that the likelihood of adolescent employment increased with family income up to $ 54,999 in 1980 dollars, when employment levels dropped. They concluded (Keithly and Deseran, 1995:486):

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