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Delayed Adulthood

Millennials Don’t Consider Themselves Adults Until Age 30

In the U.S., a person was once considered “officially” an adult when they reached the age of 18. This was not only a defining age for entry into adulthood, but also for the responsibilities and possibilities of being an adult. This included actions such as being able to vote or serve in the military. This was also the end of high school for many young adults, a major jumping off point to the workforce, college, or at the very least moving out of their parents’ home. But this is no longer the truth. Instead, in a shocking show of generational change, many Millennials do not consider themselves adults until the age of 30. 30!


According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, a Millennial is a person born between 1977 and 1995. The Center comes to this range using a variety of considerations detailed here. However, for the purposes of this article, what is fascinating is not the birth years for Millennials, but the age at which the generation self-identifies as having to assume all the responsibilities of being an adult—from paying all your own bills or getting married to living on your own. As shown below, Millennials are pushing those milestones back further and further.

  • Getting married. According to the Washington Post, the average age of marriage has increased to 27 for women and 29 for men. This number will likely continue to rise as Millennials still say they want to get married, but they are just holding out for the right time, person, or more stability.
  • Moving out of their parents’ house. Most people consider moving into a place of their own a major stepping stone to becoming an adult. With student loans to pay and a delay in getting married, more Millennials—currently between the ages of 22 and 39—are living with their mom and dad than ever before.
  • Having kids. More and more millennial women are waiting longer before having their first child. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 42% of Millennial women between the ages of 18-33 were mothers. In contrast, when Gen X women (born between 1965-1980) were the same age, 49% were already mothers. Those 7% lead to a big difference long term.

The delay in assuming these adulthood rights of passage doesn’t mean that Millennials are not interested in them. Most millennials still plan on moving out of mom and dad’s house, getting married and becoming parents. They just aren’t doing it as early as previous generations, including the generation right before them, Gen X.

At what age do you think “adulthood” begins? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @WhatTheGen or @JasonDorsey, and don’t forget to include your #generation!

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