Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Less work is a good thing

Here’s a downward trend that looks to be a good thing. I’ve graphed the percentage of high school students working 15 or more hours per week. (Data is from the 2013 Digest of Education Statistics.)

hs hours of work

In the last eight years, the fraction of 16 and 17 year-old high school students working more than 15 hours a week has dropped in half. Note that the trend pre-dates the Great Recession.

I haven’t seen any academic work that might explain this rather large change. Any thoughts folks?

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2 Responses to Less work is a good thing

  1. Jo says:

    When I was in high school, I had trouble finding a job. Most jobs require a person to be 18, to have a driver’s license, to be available during school hours and the weekends, and there are just more people willing to do the jobs teens are eligible for: food service, retail, and front desk work, or mailroom stuff. The problem is, more adults have to go into these fields because the minimum qualifications have increased, requiring more job seekers to have a degree, and more employers are looking for employees with a good reason not to screw up. Most high school students don’t have to care about their job because their lives are not on the line if they quit or screw up. This will mean an increase in the value of internships and career counseling agencies.

  2. Dan says:

    Dick, just saw the stats on work hours for students. They are very interesting, but I also find them a bit implausible given the magnitude of the drop in such a short time. While I definitely don’t have a particular reason to think the figures are wrong, it wouldn’t surprise me if the drop has something to do with a wording change in the survey rather than a real change in the number of students working more than 15 hours.


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