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Understanding the Concept of Emerging Adulthood

Jeffrey Arnett’s presentation has made significant points about why it takes longer to grow up today than in the past, specifically, the 1960s. Many things have changed in the lives of young people over the past fifty years and beyond (TEDx Talks, 2015). For instance, a relatively smaller percentage of people in the 1960s got an education beyond high school, and a more significant percentage did not get such a higher education level. Another comparative example is how men used to get married at twenty-three while women were in their twenties. Arnett compares this to the current generation, whereby women say they wish to get married at the age of twenty-seven while men at twenty-nine (TEDx Talks, 2015). He says the changes occur between adolescence and young adulthood and terms it as a new life stage of emerging adulthood.

The emerging life stage is the crucial concept in the presentation. It has been attributed to four revolutions, making growing up take longer today than in the past. The first revolution is the technological revolution, which has contributed to the transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy (TEDx Talks, 2015). The manufacturing economy made it possible for the youths to acquire jobs within a shorter period of time, while the knowledge economy only employs a few people. A few people must spend time in school to get a job. This has contributed to delayed marriages and parenthood for most youths. The second revolution was the sexual revolution, which broke the sexuality and marriage age (TEDx Talks, 2015). This makes people sexually active for a decade or less before they become committed to marriage and lifelong commitments. The women’s movement is the third factor contributing to this revolution (TEDx Talks, 2015). In the 1960s, only a few people attended colleges and universities. The men in that era were twice as many women who acquired higher education. Today, more women are in college than men pursuing law, medicine, and business courses. This has taken a toll on how women plan their lives. Unlike in the past, women now have control over their lives because they believe they can succeed professionally. This has also been felt on the men’s part because most of them concentrate on their education and careers in their twenties before committing to marriage. The fourth concept is the youth movement (TEDx Talks, 2015). In the 1960s and 1970s, adulthood was felt like an achievement. For example, children were taught to respect adults over thirty years old. However, in today’s society, men and women must push their adult years further by working for themselves and their careers to enjoy their youth while it lasts.

The emerging life stage has been beneficial to my life in many ways. First, I believe that I have more freedom to do many things without being questioned. It has allowed me to travel and take on new adventures while balancing my college and professional life. Second, this stage has allowed me to grow mentally through self-awareness. Self-awareness is essential, especially when making lifetime decisions. Lastly, I have the opportunity to build my career through the resources given in college and those found on the internet as early as now. As much as the new stage is advantageous, I feel it is right to balance social life, college life, having fun, and building a career because all these are important to one’s life.


TEDx Talks. (2015, April 28). Why does it take so long to grow up today? | Jeffrey Jensen Arnett | TEDxPSU [Video]. YouTube.


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