Transitioning to adulthood in the wake of the great recession context and consequences

Patrick Wightman, Robert F. Schoeni, Megan E. Patrick, John E. Schulenberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Over the past thirty years the transition to adulthood has become both more drawn out and more diversified. Young adults are taking longer to complete school, begin careers, get married, and have children, as well as reordering and redefining these milestones. While gradual, these changes nonetheless represent seismic shifts in the demographic landscape of young adulthood. Between 2007 and 2009 a more sudden, but equally drastic shift in the economic landscape of the United States followed in the wake of the Great Recession. This chapter examines the intersection of these long- and short-term events. The context for this examination is young adults’ financial relationships with their families, particularly their parents. We choose this framework for two reasons: First, to the extent that young adults are modifying or delaying the transition to even moderate economic self-sufficiency, they must be obtaining support from other sources. Second, to the extent that families have provided this support, the Great Recession is likely to have affected young adults’ need for additional support and parents’ ability to provide it. To these ends, we first use the Monitoring the Future Study to show how parental financial support provided to young adult children over time tracks very closely with the most prominent changes in the transition to adulthood. Then, using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics we show how young adults’ economic circumstances were impacted by the recession and how their families responded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationYoung People's Development and the Great Recession
Subtitle of host publicationUncertain Transitions and Precarious Futures
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9781316779507
ISBN (Print)9781107172975
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2017.


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