Adulthood: yes, but how?

Amélie A. Gagnon, Université de Montréal

European and North American societies have a lot to share regarding their youth, notably the absence of consensus on the objective nature of social adulthood. As mainstream culture shifts (generations are replaced, migration flows augment, not to mention the media offer), normative adulthood adjusts itself. Are the traditional markers of adulthood (to leave school, to get a job and married) still relevant to study the transition to adulthood and its outcomes? We analyze the Canadian panel Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) and measure the “adult” population via focusing on three aspects closely tied to the parent-child relationship: (1) Financial independence (2) Emotional independence and (3) Residential independence. The objective of this paper is to create a composite indicator of adulthood by the combination of those three markers, and to evaluate their relevance to study the transition to adulthood nowadays. With this traditional approach of the transition to adulthood, results show that only a small proportion of 16-30 year-old Canadians can be considered as adults, and that this pattern varies when we break the data by migratory status. Concluding remarks aims to reconcile the study of adulthood per se and the indicator to do so.

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Presented in Session 43: Life Course