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Mortimer, Jeylan T.; Finch, Michael D.; Ryu, Seongryeol; Shanahan, Michael J.; & Call, Kathleen Thiede (1996). The Effects of Work Intensity on Adolescent Mental Health, Achievement, and Behavioral Adjustment: New Evidence from a Prospective Study. Child Development, 67(3), 1243-1261.


This article examines the effects of work intensity on adolescent mental health, academic achievement, and behavioral adjustment. Questionnaire data were collected yearly from an initial panel of 1,000 randomly selected ninth graders (14-15 years old). Consistent with other studies, students who worked at higher intensity engaged in more alcohol use. The methodological strengths of this research (a representative panel studied prospectively over a 4-year period with minimal attrition and an analysis incorporating key control and lagged variables) provide strong evidence that adolescent work fosters alcohol use. The contention that work of high intensity has deleterious effects on mental health, academic achievement, and 2 other indicators of behavioral adjustment did not withstand our stringent tests. However, high school seniors who worked at moderate intensity (1-20 hours per week) had higher grades than both nonworkers and students who worked more hours per week.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Child Development


Mortimer, Jeylan T.
Finch, Michael D.
Ryu, Seongryeol
Shanahan, Michael J.
Call, Kathleen Thiede