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Passages to Adulthood: Linking Demographic Change and Human Development

Le passage à l’âge adulte : le changement démographique en relation avec le développement humain

Abstract

This article explores how demographic change has altered the terrain of early adult life. It considers some new and possible hallmarks of this period of life; some of the psychological capacities and social skills that may serve young people well in a variety of contexts; and the role of families and welfare states as sources of developmental exploration or drift, resilience or risk. The article points to the early adult years as a critical juncture for understanding the accumulation of advantage and disadvantage over the life course, and it shows how a stronger partnership between demography and human development offers promising new avenues for generating innovative theories and research on the transition to adulthood.

Résumé

Cet article explore les répercussions du changement démographique dans le domaine de la vie des adultes. Les nouveaux jalons de cette période sont décrits, de même que les capacités psychologiques et les compétences sociales qui peuvent être utiles aux jeunes dans une variété de contextes, le rôle des familles et de l’état-providence comme source d’exploration personnelle, de dérive, de résilience ou de risque. L’article souligne l’importance du début de l’âge adulte comme maillon critique pour la compréhension des phénomènes d’accumulation d’avantages ou de désavantages tout au long de la vie, et montre de quelle façon un partenariat fort entre la démographie et le développement humain est porteur de perspectives fructueuses pour la génération de théories innovantes et de recherches sur le passage à l’âge adulte.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The “developmental subgroup” of our MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy (2007) is exploring in depth some theories and hypotheses about how these and other capacities and skills might affect specific developmental outcomes during early adulthood, and how these capacities and skills are affected by or interact with specific institutional settings. It is also important to note that there is a dearth of measures in these domains for young adults, measures which sensitively capture the special developmental concerns of the early adult years (as opposed to adolescence, on the early end, or middle age, on the upper end). Our subgroup is also building a compendium of developmental measures for use with young adults. The members of this group are noted in the acknowledgments.

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Acknowledgments

I wish to acknowledge the support and feedback of colleagues in the IUSSP panel, especially Anne Gauthier and Francesco Billari. I also wish to thank my colleagues in the MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy (Frank F. Furstenberg, Director), particularly the other members of the Network’s developmental subgroup (Colleen Dillon, Connie Flanagan, Vonnie McLoyd, Wayne Osgood, Jean Rhodes, and Mary Waters), with whom I have been discussing some of the capacities and skills that may be helpful in navigating the transition to adulthood. My thinking has benefited from the stimulating discussions of these groups. I am also grateful to the editors and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.

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Settersten, R.A. Passages to Adulthood: Linking Demographic Change and Human Development. Eur J Population 23, 251–272 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-007-9132-8

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Keywords

  • Life course
  • Transition
  • Young adult
  • Identity
  • Family
  • Welfare state

Mots-clés

  • Biographie
  • Transition
  • Jeune adulte
  • Identité
  • Famille
  • Etat-providence