Why adulthood begins as late as 30

Published: Monday, July 30 2012 3:19 p.m. MDT

Young single adults participate in an activity during an LDSSA fraternity and sorority activity at the Salt Lake University Institute of Religion.

courtesy Dane Margetts, LDS Church News

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Age 21 has been the traditional mark of adulthood. However, today's young adults don't feel that they're quite there yet. Almost 60 percent of 1,029 young adults, ages 18-29, said adulthood will be more enjoyable than their life is now, according to a survey commissioned by Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

The survey is part of an ongoing study of "emerging adulthood," a relatively new life stage, coined by Clark University psychology research professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, as a phase of human development for the period of late teens through the 20s, USA Today reported.

"The main contributing social forces are later ages for career, marriage and parenthood, says Arnett, who has been studying young people for 20 years. 'None of those are going to go away in our lifetime,' he says."

Thirty percent of those surveyed said financial independence is the most important factor in becoming an adult. Financial independence, however, can be difficult to come by for a generation graduating college and seeking entrance into the workforce in these "economically unfriendly times," according to a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they get frequent or regular financial help from parents, and only 38 percent said they get little or no parental financial support.

"Now that this has emerged, it will not go away," said Jennifer Tanner, vice chair for the Society for the Study of Emerging adulthood at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. "It reached peak mass."

The study showed that 34 percent say their parents are more involved in their life than they really want them to be. Fifty-two percent have daily or almost daily contact with parents via text, email, phone or in person.

"Today’s young adults — alternately known as Generation Y, boomerang kids and the Millennial generation — do face an unprecedentedly long time between flying the nest and building one of their own, compared to previous generations," AARP observed. "They’re starting careers, marriages and parenthood at later ages, both out of preference and necessity."

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News.

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