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Emerging AdulthoodThe Winding Road from the Late Teens through the Twenties$
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Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309379.001.0001

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A Longer Road to Adulthood

A Longer Road to Adulthood

(p.3) 1 A Longer Road to Adulthood
Emerging Adulthood

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Oxford University Press

In the past few decades a quiet revolution has taken place for young people in American society, so quiet that it has been noticed only gradually and incompletely. There has been an increase in the ages of entering marriage and parenthood, a lengthening of time spent in higher education, and a period of prolonged job instability. This trend reflects the development of a new period of life for young people in the United States and other industrialized societies, lasting from the late teens through the mid- to late twenties. This period is much different from adolescence, freer from parental control; a period of independent exploration. It is a new and historically unprecedented period of the life course and it requires a new term and a new way of thinking: emerging adulthood. This chapter provides some historical background on the rise of emerging adulthood and describes the period's distinctive features. The reasons why the term emerging adulthood is preferable to other possible terms are explained.

Keywords:   emerging adulthood, marriage, parenthood, United States, culture, emerging adults, adult behavior

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