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The Takeaway: Young Adults Think Happiness Comes With Age

Posted By Elizabeth Nolan Brown On July 30, 2012 @ 9:03 am In Bulletin Today | No Comments

In a new survey of 18 to 29-year-olds, almost 60 percent said “adulthood will be more enjoyable than my life is now.” Awesome, right? Seems encouraging that the young folks of today don’t expect happiness to decrease with age. But after reading that statistic a few more times, the weird part jumped out at me. Did you notice it?

Many 18 to 29 year olds think “adulthood” will be more enjoyable than where they’re at now.

Huh. Since when is being in your 20s not considered being an adult? And what would it take to make this generation feel they had reached adulthood?

Not marriage. Only four percent of those surveyed considered tying the knot the most important factor in becoming an adult. Thirty-six percent said “accepting responsibility for yourself” was most important; 16 percent said finishing an education; and 14 percent said “making independent decisions.”

See Also: Debunking Myths About the Boomerang Generation >>

About a third said financial independence is the most important factor. But for a generation graduating college and trying to enter the workforce in these economically unfriendly times, financial independence can be hard to come by. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they get financial help from parents “frequently” or “regularly.” Only 38 percent said they get little or no parental financial support.

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. They’re starting careers, marriages and parenthood at later ages, both out of preference and necessity. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, the Clark University psychology professor who led the study, calls this period of between the late teens and late 20s in the 21st century “emerging adulthood.”

Monday Quick Hits: 

  • Cops and firefighters face benefits backlash. Traditionally, U.S. voters have backed generous pay and pensions for their local men and women in uniform. But since the recession, cops and firefighters across the country have seen cash-strapped local governments move to cut their benefits–and taxpayers quite willing to go along with it.

Photo: Howard Grey/Getty Images


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