Recently, adolescents' labor market participation has been experiencing rapid growth in Korea. Although previous research has consistently reported the negative impact of adolescents' work experience on their behavioral outcomes, it is controversial what causes the undesirable impact. On the one hand, previous studies camped in a different selection perspective report that negative outcomes stem from the disadvantaged background which characterizes students with work experience (e.g., lower SES and achievement). On the other hand, other studies support a differential socialization perspective, which explains that adolescents' work experience itself results in negative outcomes. While the former perspective is often supported by large-scale data, the latter perspective is frequently grounded on a small-scale qualitative research. As a result, it is still unclear whether the negative developmental outcomes are due partly to a differential socialization or mainly to different selection. The purpose of this study is to tackle this issue and reveal a causal-relation between work experience and problem behaviors.
Data and Method
This study utilizes the Korean Education and Employment Panel (KEEP) data, which began in 2004. The final analysis of this study included 1,365 students (12th graders in 2007) whose information was available for all years from 2004 to 2007. To adjust for pre-existing difference between students with and without work experience, Propensity Score Matching (PSM) analysis was employed. After a matched control group was selected, a series of logistic regressions were conducted with three dichotomous dependent variables (drinking, smoking, and disciplinary punishment). To control for the influence of other factors, the following variables were also included in both PSM and logistic analyses: school factors (school type, relationship with teacher, and school satisfaction), family factors (city size, relationship with parents, family income, parental education, number of children, and family satisfaction), and student factors (gender, self-efficacy, self-awareness, educational inspiration, academic achievement, and satisfaction with pocket money).
We found that 36% of the entire sample had had at least one part-time job during school years. Most of their jobs were physical labor, such as flyer distribution and working at restaurants or cafés. Although students with and without work experience were significantly different from each other in regard to their background characteristics, the differences were adjusted by the PSM. Results of the logistic regressions, performed with a matched sample, suggest that adolescents' work experience increases the likelihood of problem behaviors, given other factors were constant. Students with work experience were more likely to smoke (O.R.=5.26, p<.001), to drink (O.R.=2.74, p<.001), and to receive disciplinary punishment (O.R.=11.63, p<.001) than their counterparts.
Conclusions and Implications
This study confirms that adolescents' labor market participation has negative effects on their behavioral outcomes even after the different selection issue was adjusted by the PSM analysis. Based on the result, we call for the need of institutional guidance and supervision that help students to engage in meaningful work and to maximize the benefit from their work experience.