NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Making Summer Matter: The Impact of Youth Employment on Academic Performance

Amy Ellen Schwartz, Jacob Leos-Urbel, Matthew Wiswall

NBER Working Paper No. 21470
Issued in August 2015
NBER Program(s):Program on Children, Economics of Education Program

Holding a summer job is a rite of passage in American adolescence, a first rung towards adulthood and self-sufficiency. Summer youth employment has the potential to benefit high school students’ educational outcomes and employment trajectories, especially for low-income youth. This paper examines New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). SYEP provides jobs to youth ages 14-24, and due to high demand for summer jobs, allocates slots through a random lottery system. We match student-level data from the SYEP program with educational records from the NYC Department of Education, and use the random lottery to estimate the effects of SYEP participation on a number of academic outcomes, including test taking and performance. We find that SYEP participation has positive impacts on student academic outcomes, and these effects are particularly large for students who participate in SYEP multiple times. These findings suggest substantial heterogeneity in program effects, and an important avenue for policy makers to target the program to those who might benefit from it the most.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21470

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