Only 38 percent of 21-year-olds in Melbourne believe they had definitely reached maturity, a new study has revealed.
The study, which followed all the babies born in two Melbourne suburbs in 1990, also found that another 13 percent were adamant they had not reached adulthood, while 49 percent were ambivalent, saying “yes and no”.
Janet Taylor, senior researcher at the Brotherhood of St Laurence, said that whether they classified themselves as mature adults depended on their personal situation.
“Some are keen on adulthood and their independence and their maturity, but some were saying ‘I am not ready’,” the Daily telegraph quoted her as saying.
“For some, the fact they were earning independent money and making their own decisions made them feel adult and for some they liked that they didn''t have to take adult responsibilities yet.
“A lot who are studying are also working part-time jobs so there is a mixture of independence and dependence,” she said.
Of the 140 subjects in the survey, half were studying at university, 27 percent were in full-time paid work, 10 percent were studying at TAFE while 13 percent were parents themselves, unemployed or working part time.
A surprisingly high 72 percent were still living at home.
The research was inspired by the 7-Up TV series, which followed a group of children every seven years into adulthood.
“I think the age marker no longer has some of the relevance it did,” Taylor said.
“But on the other hand, turning 18 is very important for young people - that is when you can drink or get a driver’s licence. Some of the young people indicated turning 21 wasn’t as big as turning 18,” she said.
Social researcher and psychologist Hugh Mackay said 30 was the new milestone of maturity. He said the generation of “kidadults” spent more time studying, travelling and had more career choices.
“Twenty-one is an excuse for a party,” Mackay said.
“Young people now approaching 30 regard that as the threshold to adulthood - 30 is the new 21,” he said.
He added that “hallmarks” of maturity were committing “to the idea of a stable relationship, possibly parenthood and some kind of commitment to a career or mortgage but those things now happen typically not in our 20s but our 30s”.
The study was presented to the Australian Institute of Family Studies conference.