Not only are Millennials delaying transition into adulthood, they are self-identifying as adults much later.
Teens, these days seem to be transitioning into adulthood at a much slower rate than previous generations. We recently wrote a blog post about research that showed that some of this behavior could be attributed to smartphones. Not only are the experts saying that millennials are delaying transition to adulthood, they are also self-identifying themselves as adults much later in life.
Jean M. Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University looked at four decades of survey data about mid-to-late teens. After reviewing the literature, she found that this group is delaying the typical milestones of adulthood, mainly working, being social without their parents, dating and partying. “Today’s 18-year olds share the same behaviors as did 15-year olds in the late 1970’s”, she says.
Smart phones have had a tremendous impact on many different parts of society. Twenge believes that smart phones, have in role in teens putting off the transition into adulthood. She compellingly argues that smartphones enable teens to socialize from the safety of their own homes. In previous generations, teens had to leave home to be free of prying parents. Nowadays, typing on keyboards, video and Facetime provide the same degree of privacy for teens.
Laws should reflect the transition into adulthood
Twenge is not the only one to explore why teens are delaying the transition into adulthood. Several scientists have recently proclaimed that adulthood does not begin until age 24 because younger people are continuing their education for a longer period of time, delaying marriage and prolonging parenthood.
Writing in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, scientists from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne Australia argue that the traditional definition of adolescence, ages 10 through 19, which marked the start of puberty and end of biological growth needs to be changed. They add that many people’s wisdom teeth do not come until age 25 and the brain continues to biologically mature beyond the age of 20. Additionally, many people are getting married and having children later in life. The average man is entering his first marriage at age 32.5 and women, age 30.6, an increase of 8 years since the 1970s.
Professor Susan Sawyer, lead author argues that young people prolonging the transition into adulthood is cause for a review of policies that support youth to be extended beyond the teenage years. While the United States is to a degree jumping on the bandwagon by extending parental healthcare coverage to children through age 26, we are behind the curve when compared to other countries. As an example, New Zealand treats children who have been in care as vulnerable until they are 25, allowing them the same rights as children.
Lets ask the Millennials what they think
The Center for Generational Kinetics, a research firm focusing on Generation Y and Generation Z trends says that Millennials themselves don’t consider themselves adults until the age of 30. Using data from a variety of different sources, they conclude that for Millennials, persons born between 1977 and 1995, adulthood is not a biological age but rather the age that this generation self-identifies as taking on the responsibilities of being an adult. Such responsibilities include paying their own bills, living on their own, and getting married.
Such sentiment is reflected in their behaviors, consider:
- Millennials are living at home longer – More Millennials, currently between the ages of 22 and 39 are living at home than ever before.
- Millennials are having kids later – Millennial women are having children later in life. According to the Pew Center, in 2014, 42% of Millennial women between the ages of 18 and 33 were mothers. By comparison, when Gen X women, women born between 1965 and 1980 were the same age, 49% were already mothers.
Marriage statistics regarding Millennials has already been discussed.
These numbers are longer than those of the previous generation, Generation X. As our children grow from teens into adults, what can we expect?
Looking at the direction of the trend, there is a very good chance that they also remain close to home for a longer period of time. The good news is that because of the amount of time they spend in college to prepare for ‘adulthood’, they should be better equipped to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. The bad news is that they will cost us a great deal more money to get them to adulthood than we cost our parents. Hopefully, because they will be ‘better equipped’ for adulthood, they will be better able to assist us in retirement should we make it.