The fruits of good work: Early work experiences and adolescent deviance

Jeremy Staff, Christopher Uggen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Some theories of crime suggest that "adultlike" work conditions diminish adolescent delinquency, whereas others suggest that precocious entry into adult work roles increases youth problem behaviors. The authors consider the relationship between delinquency and several dimensions of adolescent employment, including learning opportunities, freedom and autonomy, social status, demands and stress, wages, and compatibility between work and school. They find the lowest rates of 12th-grade school deviance, alcohol use, and arrest among adolescents whose jobs supported rather than displaced academic roles and provided opportunities for them to learn new things. In contrast, many qualities of work considered desirable for adults (autonomy, social status, and wages) appear to increase delinquency in adolescence. The authors conclude that work conditions have age-graded effects on delinquency that are contingent on the life course stage of the worker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-290
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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