Young Adults Redefining Life’s Progress
A new path to adulthood: That’s the theme of a new article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Not a new one, perhaps, but an important one – backed by several key figures.
The lives of young people, rich and poor, are volatile. A third of people in their 20s live in a new place every year, says the Times; 40 percent will move back home to live with their parents. Young people hold an average of seven jobs during these formative years, and they don’t get married until an average age of 26, for women, or 28, for men.
Some of the change comes from broad social shifts. A college education is necessary for many fields, yet more expensive than ever, so the young have debt. Shifts in sexual mores and practices mean that childbearing is delayed.
As the Times article rightly points out, this is only partly a new phenomenon. Shifts in life expectancy, health, education and social structures created adolescence in the 20th century, a previously non-existent gap between childhood and adult life.
The new paradigm has good sides – people experiment, learn and experience more – and bad ones, as well, as increased dependence on parents helps maintain the income and class gap, because rich parents obviously have more to give.
However the new generation matures – and how they deal with the economic turmoil – they will be faced with bringing the U.S. fully into the new millennium. Hence, perhaps, the other name for Gen Y – Millennials.