In Friday’s New York Times Patricia Cohen had an article about delayed adulthood. It talks about how turning 21 no longer qualifies as a transition to adulthood. Traditionally, the model was that a person would turn 21, finish their studies, get a job, and marry within a few years. Now, people continue to study, and pursue long term professional goals so that marrying and family has become a lifestyle choice rather than a rite of passage.
The stretched-out walk to independence is rooted in social and economic shifts that started in the 1970s, including a change from a manufacturing to a service-based economy that sent many more people to college, and the women’s movement, which opened up educational and professional opportunities.