TitleThe Contemporary Context of Young Adulthood in the USA: From Demography to Development, From Private Troubles to Public Issues
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSettersten, RA
EditorBooth, A, Brown, SL, Landale, NS, Manning, WD, McHale, SM
Book TitleEarly Adulthood in a Family Context
Pagination3 - 26
PublisherSpringer New York
CityNew York, NY
ISBN Number978-1-4614-1436-0

This chapter describes how the passage to adulthood in the USA has changed, and what this means for individuals, families, and societies. It highlights some radical shifts in “traditional” markers of adulthood, and some problematic ways that scholars and the public think about the early adult years. It describes a few larger hallmarks of these years today, and some of the social skills and psychological capacities that young people need for traversing them, especially to foster supportive social relationships and the ability to navigate social institutions. The chapter illustrates the sizeable role of family support in determining the success of young people, as well as the significant need to strengthen existing social institutions and policies, and create new ones, to better support young adults. It is crucial that the launching of children into adulthood not be so exclusively understood as a “private trouble” to be managed with personal resources and strategies, but instead be understood as a “public issue” that requires considerable collective investments for the sake of everyone.