Sociology Ph.D. Dissertations


Intense Adolescent Work and Deviance: Theoretical Mechanisms and Long-Term Outcomes

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Raymond Swisher, PhD

Second Advisor

Jorge Chavez, PhD (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Alfred DeMaris, PhD (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Demuth, PhD (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Philip Stinson, PhD (Committee Member)


Research indicates that working over 20 hours a week is related to substance use and delinquency in adolescence. Previous studies, however, frequently use cross-sectional data leading scholars to question the causal nature of the relationship between work and delinquency. Also, few studies have also examined how adolescent work is related to substance use and deviance within the scope of criminological theory. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this research examines relationships between intense adolescent work and deviance across both short- and long-term outcomes and focuses on theoretical mechanisms and selection concerns. This study also examines variability in the work-deviance relationship by social structural and social psychological factors. Results reveal divergent pathways among adolescents along occupational and educational trajectories, and that agency and disadvantage contribute to the decision to work intense hours in adolescence. Results also show that intense work in adolescence increases the odds of substance use and delinquency in adolescence, and intense work is related to drug use and deviance in adulthood. The short-term relationships, however, are largely explained by social control and learning mechanisms, as well as by other unobserved differences using fixed effects models. There is also evidence that the detrimental relationships between intense work and both substance use and deviance are weaker for those from more advantaged backgrounds and, to a lesser extent, for those who are more planful.