Aussie teens work to earn every-day spending money, study finds

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Shoppers look through a bin full of pajamas inside a Target store on the shopping day dubbed "Black Friday" in Torrington, Connecticut November 25, 2011. The U.S. holiday shopping season was in full-swing on Thursday, with retailers hoping consu
Shoppers look through a bin full of pajamas inside a Target store on the shopping day dubbed "Black Friday" in Torrington, Connecticut November 25, 2011. Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

The primary motivation for Aussie teens to get a job is money for daily spending, a new study has revealed. About 3,500 teens from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children have participated in the study, which examined teens’ employment.

Younger Australians at 12 and 13 were earning an average of $31 weekly for around 3 hours work a week. At this age bracket, similar proportions of boys and girls were working.

Those aged 14 and 15, on the other hand, were earning $77 per week for about 6 hours work a week. Girls were more likely to be working than boys in this age group.

Why Aussie teens work

Institute’s Director, Anne Hollonds, said 16 percent of Australians aged 12 and 13 year olds were working and 39 percent of 14 and 15 year olds. She explained that teens being employed was less about saving for something or assisting with family expenses, but more about earning daily spending money. “Data from the ABS shows that girls’ jobs were likely to include work as baby-sitters, sales assistants, checkout operators and waiters while boys tended to work as labourers, sales assistants, kitchen hands and fast food cooks,” a media release reads.

By 14 and 15, thirty-one percent of girls are more likely to be working for an employer and 24 percent for boys. Another 11-12 percent of boys and girls at this age are working informally, like working as a coach in a sports team, babysitting and helping out in a family business. Twelve and 13-year-olds were a little more likely to be working in informal jobs.

According to Jennifer Baxter, AIFS’ senior research fellow, teens in remote parts of the country were more likely to be working than those in city areas. She added that girls were more likely to be employed than boys at age 14 and 15.

But boys were more likely to be employed in outer regional areas, specifically in informal work. “This may be explained by these areas having increased opportunities for boys to work in areas like farming, labouring or contributing to a family business,” Baxter said.

She added that Australian boys and girls were not necessarily working to help with their family’s cost of living expenses, as they have found lower rates of teen employment among families in lower socio-economic families. The study also looked into teen employment and links to their socio-emotional development and academic performance.

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