NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Early Work Experiences

November 17, 2000

The unemployment rate does not include 14 to 15 year-olds. However, there are a large number of 14 to 15 year-olds who work. In a recent study, it was found that people who work during their early teenage years share certain common characteristics.

The study found this about early teenage employment:

  • About 25 percent of male high school sophomores (14-15 years of age) worked over 20 hours per week in 1980.
  • Employment at ages 14 and 15 does not adversely affect school continuation two years later.
  • Wages are not affected two years later.
  • However in later years, people who work during those years work more hours and get better pay than those who do not.

The study also found that Hispanics, blacks, and females all work in lesser numbers than whites and males. This seems to mimic current demographic trends in the current workforce. The study states that those who work at the ages of 14 and 15 are better workers in the future. However, the authors cannot conclude whether the jobs create a better work ethic or whether that the population that works at 14 and 15 are already good workers.

Source: Koushik Ghosh, "Does Early Work Experience Matter?" Journal of Economics, Volume XXV, No. 1, 2000.


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