Are Millennials Redefining Adulthood?

What does it mean to be a "grown-up?"

Once upon a time, a spouse, children and a home were among the most typical hallmarks of adulthood. But that definition may be changing, says one researcher involved in an ongoing University of Arizona study of young adults.

The UA launched the Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students study – also known as APLUS – in 2007, with the goal of better understanding the financial knowledge and behaviors of young adults.

The study, which continues to follow a group students who started as UA freshmen in 2007, recently made national headlines for its finding that more than half of young adults ages 23 to 26 still rely on their parents for financial support.

But that's not the only trend worth noting in the research, which paints a picture of the millennial generation that goes beyond just dollars and cents.

Study data also points to a possible shift in young peoples' general values and their ideas about what defines adulthood, says principal investigator Joyce Serido, who recently accepted a faculty position at the University of Minnesota after working nine years at the UA – most recently as a research professor and assistant director of the Take Charge America Institute in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.

"Buying a home, getting married, having kids – those were markers of adulthood in my day," Serido said. "You went to college, you went out and got a job, you got married, you had kids, you got a house. You did these things and they were expected, and in a certain order."

But today, not so much.

About 28 percent of the APLUS study participants, who are now between the ages of 23 and 26, say that marriage is not an important life goal, while 27 percent say that having children is not. Meanwhile, 19 percent say that homeownership is unimportant.

Young adults also appear to be engaging in the workforce and in retirement planning differently than their parents might have, Serido said.

Read the rest of this July 28, 2014 UANews article at the link below.

Date released: 
Aug 4 2014