Emerging adulthood (EA) theory proposes that youth are increasingly postponing adult role transitions such as marriage, parenthood, and committing to long-term careers, and instead experiencing age 18-30 as a time of instability, open possibilities, and identity exploration (Arnett, 2004). However, critics suggest that EA theory applies only to White, college-educated youth (e.g., Hendry & Kloep, 2007; Arnett et al., 2011). The present study addresses this critique by comparing White, college-educated young adults to youth from other racial/ethnic and educational groups. Using data from the Add Health national sample, we compare these groups on outcomes relevant to EA theory: employment, career acquisition, marriage, desire for marriage, and parenthood. Findings suggest that White college graduates youth generally fit Arnett's (2004) description of emerging adulthood, but White youth with only some college experience do not fit the EA pattern well. Furthermore, youth with no college experience frequently diverged from the EA pattern as well. Many groups seemed like emerging adults in some domains but not others. Implications for EA theory and the study of non-students are discussed.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2015. Major: Psychology. Advisor: Moin Syed. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 112 pages.
Applicability of Emerging Adulthood Theory to Ethnically and Educationally Diverse Young Adults.
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