Age Differences in the Impact of Employment on Antisocial Behavior


  • The project described was supported by funds from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, National Institute of Justice, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute on Drug Abuse Grant R01DA019697, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the Arizona Governor's Justice Commission. We are grateful for their support. The content of this manuscript, however, is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of these agencies.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kathryn C. Monahan, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Psychology, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Electronic mail may be sent to


While research suggests that working more than 20 hr weekly is associated with greater antisocial behavior among middle- and upper-class youth, some have argued that employment benefits at-risk youth and leads to desistance from crime among youthful offenders. This study investigates the relation between hours worked, school attendance, and employment characteristics on antisocial behavior in a sample of approximately 1,300 juvenile offenders (ages 14–17 at baseline) tracked over 5 years. The combinations of high-intensity employment and irregular school attendance, unemployment and irregular school attendance, and unemployment and not being enrolled in school are associated with significantly greater antisocial behavior, particularly during early adolescence. High-intensity employment diminishes antisocial behavior only when accompanied by attending school.