It’s not a new developmental stage; it’s the economy.
Every generation, it seems, bemoans the irresponsibility and self-indulgence of the one that follows.
Even Socrates described the folly of youth in ancient Greece, lamenting: “Youth now love luxury. They have bad manners and contempt for authority.” However, in recent years, commentators have argued that something is distinctly stunted about the development of today’s young adults.
Many have pointed to Millennials and Gen Zers as being uniquely resistant to “growing up.” Some theorists have even suggested that a new developmental stage is needed to account for the fact that youth today are taking longer to reach adulthood and are more reliant on their parents than generations past.
Yet nothing about delaying adulthood and extending adolescence is uniquely modern. Taking more time to come of age is not due to lack of stamina or motivation on the part of today’s youth, as the common narrative proclaims. Delayed adulthood is an expected response to the economic conditions shaping the period when young adults enter the workforce.