Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

F. A. Deseran


The purpose of the study is to examine the influence of family characteristics and the local economy on youth larbor force participation. Using a representative national sample, data on 51,344 16- to 18-year-olds and their families are analyzed and combined with information on local labor markets. Although there are numerous studies dealing with labor force participation, decisions to seek employment are often treated as individual choices. Little is known about the influence of the family on youth labor force participation. This study attempts to fill this research gap. The family characteristics used in the study are household income, parental employment status, occupational status of the household head, and the relative cost of children in the household. In addition, separate analyses are presented for differing household structures and levels of household income. The constraints to youth labor force participation posed by the economic structure are also included. The labor market area characteristics included in the analysis are unemployment, youth labor supply, industrial mix, nonfarm employment growth, school enrollment, and rural/urban status. Additional characteristics included as control variables are region, cost of living, gender, race, age, and school attendance. The results of the study indicate that family circumstances affect youth labor force participation and that these effects are mediated by household structure and level of income. Parental employment and white collar occupational status of the household head are positively associated with youth labor force participation. Household income affects youth labor force participation in married-couple households, but not in female-headed households. In general, youth in married-couple households and youth in lower income households are more responsive to family characteristics in their labor force participation than are youth in female-headed households and youth in higher income households. Labor market characteristics important to youth labor force participation are unemployment, employment growth, labor supply, and urban/rural status. Higher unemployment and greater labor supply negatively affect youth labor force participation. Employment growth has a positive effect.