Quality of Employment and Delinquency During the Adolescent to Young Adult Transition

  • Kara Lustig University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Joan H. Liem University of Massachusetts Boston


Most researchers examining employment’s effect on delinquency have not focused on job quality or on employment during early adulthood. This study examined the link between specific qualities of employment and changes in delinquency among a diverse sample of young adults who had moved into the work force after high school using data from a three-wave panel study (N = 389). Contrary to hypotheses, longitudinal regression analyses revealed that changes in young adults’ delinquency from waves 1 to 3 were not related to work quality at wave 2 (e.g., hours worked per week, benefits, stability,future orientation, and enjoyment), with one exception; wages were marginally positively associated with increases in delinquency. The positive association between wages and delinquency is discussed in terms of the current nature of young adulthood and the types of the jobs that young adults without college degrees hold.


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