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Keywords:

  • emerging adulthood;
  • young adulthood;
  • transition to adulthood

ABSTRACT—This article asserts that the theory of emerging adulthood is a useful way of conceptualizing the lives of people from their late teens to their mid- to late 20s in industrialized societies. The place of emerging adulthood within the adult life course is discussed. The weaknesses of previous terms for this age period are examined, and emerging adulthood is argued to be preferable as a new term for a new phenomenon. With respect to the question of whether emerging adulthood is experienced positively or negatively by most people, it is argued that it is positive for most people but entails developmental challenges that may be difficult and there is great heterogeneity, with some emerging adults experiencing serious problems. With respect to the question of whether or not emerging adulthood is good for society, it is argued that claims of the dangers of emerging adulthood are overblown, but emerging adulthood is probably a mixed blessing for society.