lem behaviors, including substance use and minor deviance. Long hours of work also are associated with diminished good health habits (e.g., sleep, exercise, and eating breakfast) and decreased time young people spend with their families. Moreover, as noted above, a high level of work during adolescence has been found to be associated with decreased eventual educational attainment. But, employment that is limited in intensity (generally defined as 20 hours per week or less) during high school has been found to promote post-secondary educational attainment. Even those researchers who find economic benefits associated with long hours of work during high school conclude that only light to moderate work should be encouraged (see, for example, Ruhm, 1997:770). Thus, overall, there is considerable evidence that high-intensity work can be deleterious, but that low-to moderate-intensity work can be beneficial.
The scientific literature does not allow a precise determination of the number of hours that constitute ''too much" work for young people. Most studies have defined high-intensity work as more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, either for fairly arbitrary reasons or because of how data have been collected. Some studies have found negative outcomes beginning at 15 hours of work per week, and some found positive outcomes for more than 20 hours of work per week.
Most studies have focused on the hours that young people work, but there is reason to believe that the quality of work is also important for adolescents' development. Dimensions of work quality, including skill utilization and learning, relations with supervisors, and job-related stressors, have been found to have wide-ranging consequences for personal and vocational development, as well as for adolescents' relationships with parents and peers.
In conclusion, the scientific evidence raises fundamental questions about the intensity of work currently permitted for young people as well as the quality of the jobs that are available to them. Good jobs may be particularly important for poor youth, who are less able than middle-class adolescents to find part-time employment and more likely to be employed in low-skilled, hazardous jobs.