Driving Down Teen Employment? Determining the Effect of GDL Programs on Employment Among 16- and 17-year-olds

Student Author(s)

Alexander Belica

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sarah Estelle

Document Type


Event Date



Beginning in the mid-1990s, states implemented more stringent Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) restrictions on 16- and 17-year-olds who wish to obtain a driver’s license. Data show that the implementation of such restrictions has coincided with a reduced rate of teen licensure. Contemporaneously, the number of high-school-aged students who hold part time jobs has also declined dramatically. While little research on the subject exists, economic studies support that the inability to access private transportation would increase the time cost of employment, consequently, reducing the likelihood that a teen engages in market activity. This paper uses employment data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) to determine if the strengthening of GDL requirements has contributed to a decline in 16- and 17-year-old labor force participation or the number of hours teens work after controlling for a number of other factors. My findings indicate that the harshest GDL restrictions reduce the average number of hours worked.

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