Contrary to some popular stereotypes that depict young adults who live with their parents as losers, a new book posits that these late bloomers are setting themselves up for a lifetime of success.
The book, “Not Quite Adults” by Oregon State University professor Richard Settersten, was released in December by Random House. Settersten and co-author Barbara E. Ray, a Chicago writer, compiled 10 years of research that indicates 18- to 24-year-olds who take their time moving out, marrying and having children eventually tend be more financially and professionally successful.
Settersten hopes the findings will “change public discussion about young people.” “The evidence is clear: a slower path (to adulthood) is good, a faster path is risky,” Settersten said Wednesday.
Settersten will discuss his findings next week at two events: 6 p.m. Monday at Science Pub at The Old World Deli at 341 S.W. Second St. and at 4 p.m. Thursday at OSU’s Memorial Union Ballroom. Both public events are free.
The book’s research was funded by the MacArthur Foundation. It was conducted across the nation by a 12-person team that interviewed more than 500 young people.
Nationally, about half of young people ages 18 to 24 still live with their parents.
Since continuing to live at home provides them with greater financial stability, many young people are able to save money, attend college and even complete internships — things they otherwise couldn’t afford to do if they were focused instead on paying rent and holding down lesser jobs.
“Living at home can be a really smart decision,” Settersten said.
The commonly held belief that young people should assume adult roles by entering into the work force, marrying and having children soon after turning 18 is a hold-over from post-World War II ideals.
“Life was much more lockstep,” Settersten said. “Those (ideals) are outdated.”
Statistics indicate that such traditional beliefs can be detrimental because some young people aren’t emotionally or financially prepared to access higher education. Settersten said that only about a quarter of adults 25 through 34 years old have a bachelor’s degree; only 5 percent have completed a post-graduate degree.
Settersten makes the case that there is no set threshold to adulthood. Many of his interview subjects, who are age 18 to 24, reported that they still do not feel like they are full-fledged adults.
“People feel like they’re in this limbo place,” he said.
“Not Quite Adults” is Settersten’s first book, the outcome of his research into the human lifespan and transitions from childhood to adulthood.
In addition to his role as professor of human development and family sciences for the past five years, Settersten is the first endowed chair of OSU’s Hallie Ford Center.
Contact reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.