January 10th, 2011 | by JESSICA LUTJEMEYER News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Schools, CLEAN UP

The Longer Path to Adulthood Explained

Not Quite Adults

Oregon State University professor Richard Settersten and blogger Barbara E. Ray, have spent the last decade surveying 20-somethings to find out why they're taking longer to reach adulthood than previous generations.

The result of their research is their book, "Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and why it's Good for Everyone."

Settersten, a professor of human development and family sciences, will be speaking about that book Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 pm at Powell's Books (1005 W. Burnside St.). And WW spoke recently with him about the findings in the book.

"We know that so much of the conversation about young people is negative," he says. "But so much of our evidence ran counter to it, so we hope to redirect the conversation."

Before you go hear Settersten speak, here are some things you should know about "Not Quite Adults" and 20-somethings living in the 21st century:



  • There are five distinct transitions into adulthood - leaving home, finishing school, finding work, getting married and having children. In the post-WWII era, these transitions were often done quickly and in order. But nowadays, young people are taking longer to complete them, if they complete them at all, Settersten says.

  • Leaving Home: Young people are living at home longer than previous generations, but not just to mooch off their parents. Settersten says young people are calculated and deliberate in their decisions, staying home to save money, attend school or have a low-pay or no-pay internship or apprenticeship.

  • Finishing School: According to "Not Quite Adults," 70 percent of high school seniors plan on attending college, although 40 percent of those who enter a four-year university will not graduate within six years. Experts say that last fact means those 20-somethings are unlikely to graduate at all.

  • Finding Work: These days it takes longer for young people to find work that lets them live independently and eventually raise a family, whereas in post-war years, young people could find steady employment with good wages and benefits as well as the opportunity to advance, particularly for men who aren't college-bound.

  • Getting Married/Having Children: Young people are postponing marriage and children, which in the long run leads to stronger marriages and parenting, Settersten says.

 
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