OTTAWA — A new study suggests that children are taking longer to grow up these days.
The Statistics Canada study says young adults took longer to “make key life transitions to adulthood” in 2001 than their counterparts were three decades earlier.
The study used census data from 1971 and 2001 to show how transitions have changed for people between the ages of 18 and 34.
It found that overall the transition to adulthood in 2001 was delayed and elongated compared with that in 1971 – it took young adults longer to achieve independence; they were leaving school later, staying longer in their parents' home, entering the labour market later, and postponing marriage and childbearing.
As before, young women in 2001 were generally making life transitions earlier than young men but they, too, were often making different transitions at different times than they did 30 years earlier.
The study examined five transitions that many young people make on their way to adulthood: leaving school; leaving their parents' home; having full-time work; entering relationships, and having children.
In each generation, women were in general more likely than men to leave home, marry and have children at a younger age. Men in both generations generally left school earlier and had full-time employment at a younger age than women.
On average, a 25-year-old in 2001 had gone through the same number of transitions as a 22-year-old in 1971. A 30-year-old in the later generation averaged the same number of transitions as a 25-year-old in the earlier generation.
In recent years, both young men and women have delayed many transitions. For example, in 2001, half of all 22-year-olds were still in school. Only one in five had a partner (usually common-law), and one in 11 had children.
In 1971, three-quarters of young adults at the age of 22 had left school. Nearly half were married and one in four had children.
As well, in 2001, the time between transitions had increased, stretching the process from the late teens to the early 30s. Youth in 1971 packed more life transitions into the years from their late teens to mid-20s and fewer transitions into their early 30s.