Not Quite Adults: OSU expert in life transitions shatters stereotypes

Richard Settersten, and his coauthor Barbara Ray, explore the question of why 20-somethings are delaying adulthood.

We’ve been flooded with negative headlines about 20-somethings — from their sense of entitlement to their unwillingness to grow up to their attachment to their parents’ purse strings. The message is that these young people need to shape up and grow up — that they should take a fast track to adulthood just like their parents did.

Rick Settersten, author of the new book, “Not Quite Adults,” will shatter this stereotype of young people during his Wednesday, January 12th talk at Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside in Portland.  The talk and book signing starts at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.  Settersten has three other local events scheduled for this book release:

  • Monday, January 10th at 6:00 pm, OSU Corvallis Science Pub, Old World Deli, 341 2nd Street, Corvallis
  • Thursday, January 13th at 4:00 pm, Interactive presentation and signing, OSU Memorial Union lounge, Corvallis
  • Tuesday, February 15th at 6:00 pm; OSU Cascades Science Pub, McMenamins, 700 NW. Bond Street, Bend

“Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone,” is released Dec. 28 through Random House. In the book, Settersten, endowed director of the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at Oregon State University, and his coauthor Barbara Ray, explore the question of why 20-somethings are delaying adulthood.

“The great shake-ups that are going on in the transition to adulthood are transforming American life,” they write in the book, “and the reverberations will be felt by everyone.  These changes will demand new responses from governments, families, and society.”

This generation of young people is facing a very different world than their parents did, and for them, growing up too fast can be damaging. Settersten and Ray’s book shows that adult children who return home after college and delay marriage and child-rearing get a much better start in life than those who leave the nest too early, settling for low-paying jobs and having children too soon. In fact, unequal access to the resources that make this slower transition possible — including financial assistance, educational guidance, and social support networks — is deepening a class divide that will affect everyone.

Settersten is professor of human development and family sciences at OSU, and a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood.