Revisiting the Impact of Part-Time Work on Adolescent Adjustment: Distinguishing Between Selection and Socialization Using Propensity Score Matching


  • Data on which this manuscript is based were derived from a grant to B. Bradford Brown and Laurence Steinberg from the U.S. Department of Education (Office of Educational Research and Improvement), and a grant to Sanford M. Dornbusch and P. Herbert Leiderman from the Spencer Foundation. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the funding agencies.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kathryn Monahan, Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington, 9725 3rd Ave. NE, Suite 401, Seattle, WA 98115. Electronic mail may be sent to


The impact of part-time employment on adolescent functioning remains unclear because most studies fail to adequately control for differential selection into the workplace. The present study reanalyzes data from L. Steinberg, S. Fegley, and S. M. Dornbusch (1993) using multiple imputation, which minimizes bias in effect size estimation, and 2 types of propensity score matching, to account for selection effects. In this sample (= 1,792; Grades 10–11, M = 16.26), youth who begin working more than 20 hr per week evince declines in school engagement and increases in substance use and delinquency compared with youth who remain unemployed. Conversely, working 20 hr or less a week has negligible effects, positive or negative, on academic, psychological, or behavioral outcomes.