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Working and Growing Up in America

Working and Growing Up in America

Jeylan T. Mortimer

ISBN 9780674016149

Publication date: 02/01/2005

Should teenagers have jobs while they’re in high school? Doesn’t working distract them from schoolwork, cause long-term problem behaviors, and precipitate a “precocious” transition to adulthood?

This report from a remarkable longitudinal study of 1,000 students, followed from the beginning of high school through their mid-twenties, answers, resoundingly, no. Examining a broad range of teenagers, Jeylan Mortimer concludes that high school students who work even as much as half-time are in fact better off in many ways than students who don’t have jobs at all. Having part-time jobs can increase confidence and time management skills, promote vocational exploration, and enhance subsequent academic success. The wider social circle of adults they meet through their jobs can also buffer strains at home, and some of what young people learn on the job—not least, responsibility and confidence—gives them an advantage in later work life.


  • Mortimer…reports here on the findings from her multiyear longitudinal study, which followed the lives of 1000 students from their first year of high school to their mid-twenties… The study does convincingly demonstrate that part-time employment not only supplements a teen’s learning process but also bolsters self-confidence, socialization, time-management skills, career exploration, and responsibility… This book is readable and interesting and will likely serve as the underpinning for research in an array of disciplines.

    —Mark Alan Williams, Library Journal


  • Jeylan T. Mortimer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota.

Book Details

  • 304 pages
  • 0-3/4 x 5-11/16 x 8-7/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press