How do young people make the transition to adulthood?
Through the use of four major markers: starting work, leaving home, having children and getting married, this paper examines the transition to adulthood over the last century in Canada.
Many discussions of this topic look back to the 1970s to show how adolescents today are taking a longer road to adulthood. If we look back to the early 20th century, however, we will see that the current generation is continuing trends from that time, which were effectively interrupted by the baby boom. Or at least it may appear so on the surface. A deeper look shows that what seems the same is in fact different, given the changed social conditions between now and then with respect to work, family life and war and peace.
One transition marker stands out as a unique development. This is the movement from marriage to cohabitation (living together or living common-law). Young people today, especially in the province of Quebec, are choosing cohabitation in droves.
- Explores the overall changes in the transition to adulthood over the last century
- Examines the nature of cohabitation vis-a-vis marriage with respect to stability and relationship breakdown
- Seeks to answer how the shift to cohabitation may contribute to delayed adulthood
Recommendations include broadening awareness around the social science showing cohabitation is not the same as marriage, neither does it contribute to a better marriage in the future. Awareness around the different outcomes should be heightened, particularly since the negative outcomes of cohabitation detract from the relational aspirations of the people involved.
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