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Assessing the High School Career With Respect to Work and Crime

Shawn Bushway and Ray Paternoster, Criminology

There is a growing body of work attempting to identify a causal relationship between adolescent work, attachment to school and delinquent activity.  Many of these studies have been hampered by methodological problems, including aggregate rather than individual level analysis, the use of local convenience samples, cross-sectional rather than longitudinal analysis, use of self-report school data, failure to adequately control for heterogeneity, and failure to consider school, work and crime in the appropriated developmental context.  The study will use the seed grant to improve on previous studies by taking advantage of the NLSY97, which has unusually detailed data on work and school performance for a nationally representative sample of high school age youth.  In particular, the data set has a week-by- week work history file for all youth, and a term-by-term transcript file for all youth age 18 and above in wave three who have finished high school. The study aims to to 1) use random and fixed effect statistical modeling to determine if, on average, different levels of work have a detrimental effect on educational attainment as measured by absences and grade point average; 2) identify distinct patterns (if any) over time in absenteeism, course quality and grade point average; 3) determine if causal model estimated in time 1 depends on developmental context described in step 2; and 4) develop models that jointly determine the impact of work and school on criminal behavior.