The Changing Twenties
The National Campaign | 2007 | ISBN: 0516066757 | English | PDF | 31 pages | English | 1 MB
Despite all the much advertised changes in technology and popular culture, being 15 today is still much like being 15 a generation ago. Teens’ lives are still framed in large measure by parents, schools, peers, and popular culture. Farther up the age scale—despite all the changes in the economy—being 35 today bears more than a passing resemblance to being 35 a generation ago. Adults’ lives are still framed by careers, marriage, children, and civic ties.
But I want to suggest that being 25 today is very different. Today’s young adults are much less likely to have committed themselves to a mate or to a career. Unlike my generation, only a tiny fraction experience military service. Many go back and forth between episodic education and temporary jobs and between independent living and their parents’ homes. Most young people in their 20s are living outside of institutions and, therefore, without the structure and norms that institutions provide. Many feel that they are living without a script and are making up their lives as they go. And despite the birth dates on their driver’s licenses, many of them are not sure that they are adults at all.
This publication takes an empirical look at four dimensions of the changing 20s. First, what I regard as revolutionary shifts in the balance between young men and young women in education, employment, and earnings. Second, rapid changes in patterns of marriage and cohabitation. Third, changes in relations between 20-somethings and their parents regarding living arrangements and healthcare. And, fi nally, a startling shift in the defi nition of adulthood itself.
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