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Is High School Employment Consumption or Investment?

  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this study examines whether employment by high school students improves or worsens economic attainment 6 to 9 years after the scheduled date of high school graduation. There is no indication that light to moderate job commitments ever have a detrimental impact and hours worked during the senior grade are positively correlated with future earnings, fringe benefits, and occupational status. These results are robust across a variety of specifications and suggest that employment increases net investments in human capital and facilitates the school- to-work transition, particularly towards the end of high school and for students not continuing on to college.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5030.

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Date of creation: Feb 1995
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 113, no. 1 (February 1998): 285-317.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5030
Note: LS
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  1. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1988. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," NBER Working Papers 2649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. K. Newey, Whitney, 1985. "Generalized method of moments specification testing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 229-256, September.
  3. Weiss, Andrew, 1988. "High School Graduation, Performance, and Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 785-820, August.
  4. Robert H. Meyer & David A. Wise, 1979. "High School Preparation and Early Labor Force Experience," NBER Working Papers 0342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Michael, Robert T & Tuma, Nancy Brandon, 1984. "Youth Employment: Does Life Begin at 16?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 464-76, October.
  6. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Daniel R. Sherman, 1985. "Employment While in College, Academic Achievement and Post-College Outcomes: A Summary of Results," NBER Working Papers 1742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Duncan, Greg J & Hill, Daniel H, 1985. "An Investigation of the Extent and Consequences of Measurement Error in Labor-Economic Survey Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 508-32, October.
  8. Richard B. Freeman & James L. Medoff, 1982. "Why Does the Rate of Youth Labor Force Activity Differ across Surveys?," NBER Chapters, in: The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pages 75-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David T. Ellwood, 1982. "Teenage Unemployment: Permanent Scars or Temporary Blemishes?," NBER Chapters, in: The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pages 349-390 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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