Oregon State University
Richard Settersten
Barbara E. Ray
Not Quite Adults
  • 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.