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Why Are So Many Young People Putting Off Adulthood Right Now?

Submitted by on September 26, 2011 – 10:27 amNo Comment

Grow up!

Remember when your parents used to yell that at you when you were younger? Back then, they probably did it because you were acting immature. But these days, more and more parents are telling their “kids” to grow up when they’re 18, 23, 25, and even 34. And they literally want them to grow up.

You see, according to a recent study, only 55 percent of young people in America currently have a job, which is the lowest percentage since World War II. Young people are also starting to put off other things that adults usually do, too. In 2010, almost six million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 still lived at home with their parents, which represents a 25 percent increase since 2007. The rate of young people getting married has decreased dramatically with just 44 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 34 getting married last year, which is an all-time low. And, for the fourth straight year, home ownership has declined amongst young people.

So, what exactly seems to be the problem? Well, for starters, the recession has hit young people just as hard as it has hit others throughout the country. Young people are having a difficult time finding and keeping jobs, thus limiting their ability to move out of mom and dad’s house, get married, and start a family. However, it also appears that many young people are simply “postponing adulthood,” or staying young and without responsibilities for as long as they possibly can.

“Many young adults are essentially postponing adulthood and all of the family responsibilities and extra costs that go along with it,” Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau told the AP recently.

They’re also discouraged by the current job market. Because many young people today are more likely to have been laid off than past generations, studies are starting to show that their entire careers will be altered. “These people will be scarred,” says Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard, “and they will be called the ‘lost generation’ in that their careers would not be the same way if we had avoided this economic disaster.”

But, here’s my question: Are young people struggling to succeed only because of the recession, or are young people simply using the recession as an excuse to stay young and irresponsible for longer than they should? I’d say that I’ve seen a little bit of both. Being 28 and having a lot of friends that are around my age, I’ve seen that there are some people who are genuinely struggling to move out of their parents’ house and start their lives. They don’t have good-paying jobs, or they had good-paying jobs but lost them because of the recession. On the other hand, I’ve also seen a lot of young people stay at home for as long as possible even though they probably could afford to move out rather easily. Just as this “lost generation” is trying to find their way, many Baby Boomers seem more willing than ever to make excuses for their children and shelter them from the world.

Regardless of the reason, though, this is really happening. An entire generation is waiting until they’re in their mid-30s to establish themselves in their careers, buy homes, and get married. And that is going to have to be something that we keep an eye on moving forward—before all of today’s young people really do become the “lost generation” of America. It’s becoming more and more difficult, but It’s time for us all to find a way to grow up. Before it’s too late.

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