A longitudinal study is described in which 1087 young people were studied while they were in their tenth year of schooling and for the following three years. The paper focusses on development of self-esteem during the period of transition from school to the workforce or further study and also attempts to isolate the factors that are important for the maintenance of self-esteem in this age group. The relationship of self-esteem to a number of factors - need for achievement, locus of control, depressive affect, socio-economic status, sex, school grading - was explored. Most variables were found to be associated with self-esteem in the expected direction. However, interesting effects showed up over time. Self-esteem, for instance, was found to become higher as subjects grew older and low self-esteem appeared to be a precursor of unemployment particularly among males.