The initiation of homeless youth into the street economy

Marya Gwadz, Karla Gostnell, Carol Smolenski, Brian Willis, David Nish, Theresa C. Nolan, Maya Tharaken, Amanda S. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Homeless youth (HY) who lack employment in the formal economy typically turn to the street economy (e.g., prostitution, drug selling) for survival. Guided by the theory of social control, the present paper explores factors influencing HY's initiation into the street economy. Eighty HY (ages 15-23) were recruited from four community-based organizations. All participated in structured interviews and 25% participated in qualitative interviews. Almost all HY had participated in the street (81%) and formal economies (69%). Five main factors simultaneously influenced initiation into the street economy: social control/bonds, barriers to the formal economy (e.g., homelessness, educational deficits, mental health problems, incarceration, stigma), tangible and social/emotional benefits of the street economy, severe economic need, and the active recruitment of HY into the street economy by others. Qualitative and quantitative data sources were congruent. Intervention efforts are needed at multiple levels of influence to promote HY's success in the formal economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-377
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Fingerprint

Homeless Youth
Social Stigma
Interviews
Sex Work
Homeless Persons
Information Storage and Retrieval
Mental Health
Economics
Organizations
Survival
Pharmaceutical Preparations

Keywords

  • Formal economy
  • Homeless youth
  • Mixed methods
  • Street economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Gwadz, M., Gostnell, K., Smolenski, C., Willis, B., Nish, D., Nolan, T. C., ... Ritchie, A. S. (2009). The initiation of homeless youth into the street economy. Journal of Adolescence, 32(2), 357-377. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2008.01.004

The initiation of homeless youth into the street economy. / Gwadz, Marya; Gostnell, Karla; Smolenski, Carol; Willis, Brian; Nish, David; Nolan, Theresa C.; Tharaken, Maya; Ritchie, Amanda S.

In: Journal of Adolescence, Vol. 32, No. 2, 04.2009, p. 357-377.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gwadz, M, Gostnell, K, Smolenski, C, Willis, B, Nish, D, Nolan, TC, Tharaken, M & Ritchie, AS 2009, 'The initiation of homeless youth into the street economy', Journal of Adolescence, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 357-377. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2008.01.004
Gwadz, Marya ; Gostnell, Karla ; Smolenski, Carol ; Willis, Brian ; Nish, David ; Nolan, Theresa C. ; Tharaken, Maya ; Ritchie, Amanda S. / The initiation of homeless youth into the street economy. In: Journal of Adolescence. 2009 ; Vol. 32, No. 2. pp. 357-377.
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