School children working part-time not disadvantaged

Having part-time work does not disadvantage children long-term, data from the ''Dunedin Study'' has shown.

University of Otago researchers analysed data from the long-running Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and found schoolchildren having part-time work was not associated with any long-term harmful effects on their wellbeing or education, nor with increased drug use.

Lead author Dr Ella Iosua said the results supported the Government's position on child labour, with New Zealand one of few countries not to have ratified United Nations recommendations to prevent children from having part-time jobs before the legal school-leaving age of 16 years.

''Our findings can help provide reassurance that moderate part-time work is unlikely to be detrimental in countries like New Zealand,'' she said.

She cautioned this may not apply in societies with lower levels of child protection, where children could be exposed to long hours of work or unsafe working conditions.

Dr Ella Iosua said many children involved in the Dunedin Study did part-time work while at school.

At age 11 just over 5% did such work, while 26% and 42% worked part time at ages 13 and 15 respectively.

''Study members who had part-time jobs between ages 11 and 15 years were not more likely to suffer negative outcomes in psychological wellbeing or academic qualifications by age 32.

''Nor did such work make them more likely to smoke, drink alcohol excessively, or regularly use cannabis in adulthood,'' Dr Iosua said.

The Dunedin Study has followed the progress of 1000 people born in 1972-73 through to age 38.

The research, which appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health, included data up to age 32.

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