It has been suggested that there may be some students who might drop out of school if their work hours are limited. The committee did not thoroughly review the literature on dropping out of school, but multiple factors, many of which precede entry into the work force, may lead youngsters to drop out of school. Dropping out of school has also been linked to the labor market, with dropout rates declining as unemployment rates rise. Clearly, the issue of dropouts deserves further investigation and, as standards are implemented, this is a question that should be monitored closely.
As with any policy change, other unintended consequences may occur, as well. For example, restrictions on the hours that adolescents can work might reduce their employment opportunities. Often, when employment of a particular group is made more difficult or costly for the employer, the employment level for that group declines, but the experience in Washington state suggests that this may not necessarily be the case for young people (see Chapter 6). After Washington imposed stricter limits on work by 16-and 17-year-olds, there was no decrease in the number of jobs available for adolescents.
One method to arrive at the appropriate restrictions would be for the Department of Labor to establish an expert advisory committee charged with recommending what specific limits should be placed on allowable work hours for youngsters aged 16 and 17 and what, if any, exceptions to these limits should be permitted. In addition to the number of hours worked per week, the advisory committee should also investigate whether hours per day and start and stop times of work, particularly on school nights, should be included in the regulation.
Recommendation: The Department of Labor should be authorized by Congress to adopt a standard limiting the weekly maximum number of hours of work for 16-and 17-year-olds during the school year. This standard should be based on the extensive research about the adverse effects of high-intensity work while school is in session.
Currently, children and adolescents working in agriculture are permitted to work many more hours and at younger ages than those who work in nonagricultural workplaces. Yet, the negative conse-