Youth employment refers to the engagement of young people in work experiences during the school year and/or during the summer. The term may refer to youth between 14 and 24 years of age, but it often focuses on the beginning of nonrestricted legal work (at age 16 in the United States) until the time when students complete high school. Research findings suggest that employment can benefit youth, though working extensive hours can be harmful. This entry summarizes the historical trends, benefits, and risks of youth employment and discusses summer youth employment initiatives.

Historical Trends

For most of human history, children and youth worked within their families or apprenticed outside the home. This began to change in the early 20th century with the enactment of child labor ...

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