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Can youth employment reduce a societal threat? Boston study explores

by on July 10, 2013

We have noticed how often youth unemployment is described in terms of being a threat to society. We blogged recently about how a ‘lost generation’ is described as threatening ‘the very foundations of the European welfare state’ and as a crisis for European Governments and society. Another aspect of this threat relates to civil unrest.

A recent study in Boston, reported here in the Boston Globe, is said to support the idea that summer jobs for young people on low incomes reduce violence in the city.

The questionnaire survey indicates that low-income teenagers in Boston who hold summer jobs are less likely to engage in violence. Interestingly, researchers at Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies polled 421 teenagers and young adults who had found employment in summer 2012 through a youth violence prevention collaborative. 3% of youths reported threatening or attacking someone with a gun during the month before starting their jobs; this fell to 1% for the last month before the job program ended. The summer jobs also reduced risky behavior such as drug and alcohol use.

What’s interesting is the extent to which arguments for jobs programmes for a particular age group are couched in terms of what will happen (e.g. to society) if the group remains unemployed.

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