On the Frontier of Adulthood
Theory, Research, and Public Policy
On the Frontier of Adulthood
Theory, Research, and Public Policy
This volume considers the nature and consequences of changes in early adulthood by drawing upon a wide variety of historical and contemporary data from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Especially dramatic shifts have occurred in the conventional markers of adulthood—leaving home, finishing school, getting a job, getting married, and having children—and in how these experiences are configured as a set. These accounts reveal how the process of becoming an adult has changed over the past century, the challenges faced by young people today, and what societies can do to smooth the transition to adulthood.
"This book is the most thorough, wide-reaching, and insightful analysis of the new life stage of early adulthood."—Andrew Cherlin, Johns Hopkins University
"From West to East, young people today enter adulthood in widely diverse ways that affect their life chances. This book provides a rich portrait of this journey-an essential font of knowledge for all who care about the younger generation."—Glen H. Elder Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"On the Frontier of Adulthood adds considerably to our knowledge about the transition from adolescence to adulthood. . . . It will indeed be the definitive resource for researchers for years to come. Anyone working in the area—whether in demography, sociology, economics, or developmental psychology—will wish to make use of what is gathered here."—John Modell, Brown University
"This is a must-read for scholars and policymakers who are concerned with the future of today’s youth and will become a touchpoint for an emerging field of inquiry focused on adult transitions."—Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia University
608 pages | 56 figures, 84 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2005
"With all of its uncertainties and consequences, the young adult transition remains a source of great fascination and concern. How one enters adulthood matters, and we know surprisingly little about how children make their way to adult roles. On the Frontier of Adulthood tells us a story of remarkable variation in this transition by historical time and across contemporary societies. From West to East, young people today enter adulthood in widely diverse ways that affect their life chances. This book provides a rich portrait of this journey-an essential font of knowledge for all who care about the younger generation."
Glen H. Elder Jr. | Glen H. Elder Jr.
"This book is the most thorough, wide-reaching, and insightful analysis of the new life stage of early adulthood. It emphasizes the diversity of young adults’ experiences today and explores the different life paths they follow. It concludes with some valuable lessons for public policy."
Andrew Cherlin | Andrew Cherlin
"On the Frontier of Adulthood adds considerably to our knowledge about the transition from adolescence to adulthood, in the hope that the information may also be used to affect policy. It will indeed be the definitive resource for researchers for years to come. Anyone working in the area-whether in demography, sociology, economics, or developmental psychology-will wish to make use of what is gathered here."
John Modell | John Modell
"On the Frontier of Adulthood is a remarkable and timely volume on that often ignored and sometimes misunderstood transition between adolescence and adulthood. The editors focus on the myriad choices that youth have available to them and the difficulties associated with negotiating the challenges of being twenty-something in our society. The complexity of life paths, the unequal distribution of opportunities, and the patchwork nature of institutions and policies directed toward serving twenty-somethings are all described in arresting detail. This is a must-read for scholars and policymakers who are concerned with the future of today’s youth and will become a touchpoint for an emerging field of inquiry focused on adult transitions."
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn | Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
"Start with 14 massive longitudinal data sets, add analysis and insight from 35 academics . . . stir in MacArthur Foundation funding for this network to meet and collaborate, and let the mix mature and take shape for several years. The result: sixteen chapters, most of them quite good and some excellent, in a very large volume that is, arguably, the most definitive overview yet of the emerging phenomenon of early adulthood in North America."
Harvey Krahn | Canadian Journal of Sociology
"A rewarding account that supports the adage that what’s past is prologue."
"The breadth and depth of this volume make it an invaluable guide for scholars, policymakers, and program officers. . . . The book’s strengths lie in its comprehensive treatment of the contemporary experience of becoming adult, the variety of data sets and methods used, and its ability to look both backward to how adulthood was achieved by earlier generations and forward to how we as a society can smooth the transition for future generations."
Ann Meier | Journal of Marriage and Family
"The strength of the book lies in the vast detail provided on what it takes to be an adult in contemporary western society written by talented scholars, most of whom are the leading figures in their subdisciplines. The coverage of topics and the theoretical and empirical insights are almost exhaustive."
Monica A. Longmore | Contemporary Sociology
"This volume is really at the frontier of research on young adulthood and makes a very important contribution to the literature on the transition to adulthood. As such, it is compulsory reading for anyone with a serious interest in this life phase."
Aart C. Liefbroer | European Journal of Population
"This work amply demonstrates that changing social conditions have also changed the way young people transition to adulthood. . . . This is the initial effort of a large, important, and continuing project."
Harris Chaiklin | Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
"The strengths of this text include its broad scope, use of rigorous, empirical research to explicate the themes, clear writing, and sophisticated grasp of the multiple perspectives necessary for understanding the changes in early adulthood over the past century. . . . On the Frontier of Adulthood is highly recommended for students, researchers, and policymakers who are interested in the emerging field of early adulthood. It is comprehensive, yet readable, and would be an appropriate graduate course text, and a welcome addition to a more experienced scholar’s library."
Sarah Taylor | Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare
Table of Contents
MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy
PART ONE: ON THE FRONTIER OF ADULTHOOD: AN INTRODUCTION
On the Frontier of Adulthood: Emerging Themes and New Directions
FRANK F. FURSTENBERG JR., RUBÉN G. RUMBAUT, AND RICHARD A. SETTERSTEN JR.
PART TWO: COMPARISONS OVER TIME AND PLACE: CROSS-SECTIONAL AND CROSS-NATIONAL STUDIES
The Transition to Adulthood during the Twentieth Century: Race, Nativity, and Gender
ELIZABETH FUSSELL AND FRANK F. FURSTENBERG JR.
American Women’s Transition to Adulthood in Comparative Perspective
ELIZABETH FUSSELL AND ANNE H. GAUTHIER
Historical Roots of Family Diversity: Marital and Childbearing Trajectories of American Women
LAWRENCE L. WU AND JUI-CHUNG ALLEN LI
Historical Trends in the Patterns of Time Use among Young Adults in Developed Countries
ANNE H. GAUTHIER AND FRANK F. FURSTENBERG JR.
Generation Gaps in Attitudes and Values from the 1970s to the 1990s
TOM W. SMITH
PART THREE: PASSAGES TO ADULTHOOD: FINDINGS FROM NATIONAL AND REGIONAL LONGITUDINAL STUDIES
Subjective Age Identity and the Transition to Adulthood: When Do Adolescents Become Adults?
MICHAEL J. SHANAHAN, ERIK J. PORFELI, JEYLAN T. MORTIMER, AND LANCE D. ERICKSON
Sequences of Early Adult Transitions: A Look at Variability and Consequences
Off to a Good Start? Postsecondary Education and Early Adult Life
GARY D. SANDEFUR, JENNIFER EGGERLING-BOECK, AND HYUNJOON PARK
Six Paths to Adulthood: Fast Starters, Parents without Careers, Educated Partners, Educated Singles, Working Singles, and Slow Starters
D. WAYNE OSGOOD, GRETCHEN RUTH, JACQUELYNNE S. ECCLES, JANIS E. JACOBS, AND BONNIE L. BARBER
Is It Getting Harder to Get Ahead? Economic Attainment in Early Adulthood for Two Cohorts
MARY CORCORAN AND JORDAN MATSUDAIRA
Material Assistance from Families during the Transition to Adulthood
ROBERT F. SCHOENI AND KAREN E. ROSS
Early Adult Transitions and Their Relation to Well-Being and Substance Use
JOHN SCHULENBERG, PATRICK M. O’MALLEY, JERALD G. BACHMAN, AND LLOYD D. JOHNSTON
The Ever-Winding Path: Ethnic and Racial Diversity in the Transition to Adulthood
JOHN MOLLENKOPF, MARY WATERS, JENNIFER HOLDAWAY, AND PHILIP KASINITZ
POLICY AND PRACTICE FOR LIVES IN TRANSITION
The Transition to Adulthood for Youth Leaving Public Systems: Challenges to Policies and Research
E. MICHAEL FOSTER AND ELIZABETH J. GIFFORD
Social Policy and the Transition to Adulthood: Toward Stronger Institutions and Individual Capacities
RICHARD A. SETTERSTEN JR.