In a way the understanding of adolescence has matured among scientists. According to some contemporary theories, adolescence now lasts until age 34, meaning that many of today’s soldiers, members of Congress and businesspersons could fall under the category between children and adults.
According to some contemporary theories, adolescence now lasts until age 34, meaning that many of today’s soldiers, members of Congress and businesspersons could fall under the category between children and adults.
The number of projects studying adolescence has surged over the last few years, largely due to various industries viewing adolescence as a huge market for medication, entertainment and goods and services.
Formed 32 years ago, the Society for Adolescent Medicine has promoted its cause to become a sub-specialty of pediatrics, and now defines adolescent healthcare as lasting till age 26, according to its Web site.
“Our patients were getting older and we wanted to continue to treat them,” Manuel Schydlower, SAM president and assistant dean for medical education at Texas Tech University School of Medicine, told the Washington Post.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of adolescents in the United States is greater today than ever before—at 80 million Americans between 10 and 30 years of age.
Such figures ignite further funding of adolescence research in the United States.
Scientists trying to redefine understanding of adolescence looked at an elaborate maze of social and psychological factors, from job responsibilities and education to family arrangements and career motivation, according to Transitions to Adulthood, a project underway at the University of Pennsylvania since 1999.
The MacArthur Foundation has given $3.4 million to fund Transitions to Adulthood, which now pegs the end of that transition at 34, the Post reported.
Marriage trends are also taken into account. Because young adults now marry about 5 years later than they did in 1970 (at 25 for women and 26 to 28 for men), researchers saw reasons to push adolescence further.
The U.S. Census Bureau said more than one-half of men 18 to 24 years of age, and almost one-half of women that age, reported living with their parents in 2000.
Is adolescence defined differently in European countries, where it is more traditional to continue living with parents, in part due to financial circumstances?
In Italy, for example, the average age to leave the parents’ home is 34, according to the William T. Grant Foundation, which funds research on youth issues.
It is typical for children to start their own families in Russia while continuing to live with their parents.
The Younger Americans Act, introduced in Congress last year, proposed about $6 billion in funding for youth development programs.
So far, the federal government’s youth development efforts have been limited to those under the age of 19.
Alex Smirnov is BCE’s research associate.