the school year and 26 hours per week during the summer.6Figure 2-1 shows employment in the summer versus the school year, by age group, and Figure 2-2 shows the number of hours worked for summer months versus the school year, by age group.

Surveys and studies other than the CPS provide more information on the amount of time young people spend working. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth show that 3 percent of all sophomores, 10 percent of all juniors, and 19 percent of all seniors worked more than 20 hours per week in the week the survey was conducted (Ruhm, 1997). The recent National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that 17.9 percent of all high-school students worked more than 20 hours per week during school (Resnick et al., 1997). Tables 2-3 and 2-4 summarize the findings of various studies on how much adolescents work.

An additional factor that may lead to different estimates of work in different studies is erroneous recall, which can complicate data on the number of hours worked, particularly if the respondents are estimating their average hours worked during some previous period. How best to estimate actual work hours is a matter of debate. Studies using detailed time diaries find lower hours of work than surveys that ask people the average number of hours worked in a previous period (Robinson and Godbey, 1997). Unfortunately, the time-diary data available on work by children and adolescents lump together data for ages 12 to 17, making them impossible to compare with other survey data.

Several potentially important aspects of work intensity are not well accounted for in most studies, such as the number of hours per day, the timing of those hours, and the variability of the work schedule. For example, working two 8-hour days over the weekend may be qualitatively different than working four 4-hour days after school. How late a youngster works on school nights may be as important as how many hours he or she works in a week. Working many hours for a short period of time (such as the Christmas holidays) may have

6  

These numbers were generated by project staff using 1995 CPS data made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the monthly survey asks only about work in the previous week and the March supplement asks for average hours worked in the previous year, the annual and monthly figures are not necessarily comparable.



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