If this doesn’t generate some angst, I’m not sure what would.
As reported by the BBC today, Professor Susan Sawyer and her co-authors report that adolescent behavior now starts at age 10 and extends through age 24 in developed countries such as the US and UK. People in this age group remain dependent on their parents and don’t begin to move out on their own and exhibit other adult behaviors until age 25.(1) They argue that government policy needs to consider this longer period of childhood dependency.
There’s no argument over the start of adolescence at age 10. That date, which has moved earlier over the last 200 years, is governed by by physical development of the body and especially sexual organs. Diet has played a major role is promoting earlier development.
The question is how long should people be considered as dependent on their parents?
Critics of the extension of childhood from 19 to 24 argue that it risks further “infantilising young people.” The counter argument is that young adults behavior according to what people expect of them. Expect less, get less.
There actually is a body of research showing the important role that expectations have in shaping behavior.(2) Expect more, get more.(3)
The confounding issue is financial. A lot of young adults can’t afford health insurance, or housing, or car insurance at age 20 or 24. That’s why the delay in moving out of the home.
Does the extended time with parents lead to less mature behavior and decision-making? Implicit in the argument by Prof. Sawyer is that it does. Implicit in the counter argument is that as a society, we don’t want to allow that to happen.