Emerging adults: Pay attention to a life stage, not a generation

“Emerging adulthood [ages 18-29] is the only period of life in which nothing is normative demographically.” Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

It’s true that the Millennial generation has a lot of distinct characteristics (coming of age during the recession and being social media/tech natives), yet many of the attributes of this generation have more to do with their stage of life than the year they were born.

In 2000, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett proposed the idea of emerging adulthood, a stage of development between 18-29, when individuals have left adolescence and childhood, but haven’t yet taken on the responsibilities of full-fledged adulthood, like starting a family or owning a home.

Arnett believes the social and economic changes in the last half century that led to the formation of an emerging adult stage aren’t going away, so we can expect that as future generations pass through their late teens and twenties, they will experience similar challenges with a similar approach to life.

A 2012 Clark University study, led by Arnett, took a deeper look at how this life stage pans out.

One notable trend is a shift in traditional markers used for considering yourself an adult:

  • Only 4% of the respondents consider getting married the most important part of becoming an adult.
  • Being financially independent ranked second highest at 30% (behind accepting responsibility for yourself: 36%).
  • Nearly three-fourths (74%) of emerging adults stated that they would rather live on a tight budget than be financially dependent upon their parents.

As a credit union, you are in a remarkable spot to help emerging adults make the decisions that they believe push them into adulthood. The Census Bureau just released data noting that the biggest age group in the American population is 22-year-olds (23-year-olds are second, followed by 21-year-olds). Are you targeting your help and content to this group?

Don’t miss out on the chance to provide assistance to the largest population segment in the U.S. and who have clearly indicated that they want financial autonomy. Evaluate your current strategy and take stock on whether you have what you need to be a resource to emerging adults, no matter what year they were born in.

Kayla Byers

Kayla Byers

Kayla Byers joined brass Media, Inc in Fall 2011 as an Account & Customer Relations Manager, where she helps customers build more solid connections with young adults. She has been ... Web: www.brassmedia.com Details