CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Civic Engagement and the Changing Transition to Adulthood

January 21st, 2009
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January 2009

CIRCLE releases a new paper by Constance Flanagan, Peter Levine, and Richard Settersten entitled “Civic Engagement and the Changing Transition to Adulthood” (PDF). This study, funded by the Spencer Foundation, argues that life has changed dramatically for people in their 20s. Marriage, childbearing, financial independence, and other aspects of the “transition to adulthoood” have been transformed since the 1970s, and are now very different for people with and without college educations. These changes and differences powerfully affect civic engagement. For example, it appears that younger generations have delayed voting, in much the same way that they have delayed marriage and childbearing. But young adults without college experience are permanently missing some aspects of civic engagement–such as group membership–that were common thirty years ago.

As this sample graph shows, non-college youth are less engaged than they were in the 1970s in nine out of ten forms of civic engagement.

non-college youth civic engagement

Another graph in the report shows that they are now less engaged than their college-educated peers in all ten of these ways (including union membership). The full report contains much more data, analysis, and policy recommendations.

For more information on non-college youth,  please see CIRCLE’s latest fact sheet “Youth Demographics – Youth with No College Experience.”  The fact sheet contains information on demographic trends of young people in the United States who have no college experience, for the years between 1968 and 2007.   To download the fact sheet click here.

40 Responses to “Civic Engagement and the Changing Transition to Adulthood”

  1. Bred Stef Says:

    Hmm..little bit about this???

  2. Jump Higher Says:

    Great paper, I think it provides great deal of useful information.

  3. Advertising Design Says:

    I wonder where one gets these statistics from. The only valid one I see is reading newspaper. Because there is so many other ways to get the news.

  4. BeeReg Says:

    Great study, good education help people very much on build a great future for them.
    Thank for your informations.

  5. Link Cloaker Says:

    Alot of the stats could have come from census reports right?

  6. How To Sell Gold For Cash Says:

    “Non-college youth are less engaged than they were in the 1970s” in my experience that wouldn’t seem to be true but you can’t argue with real research. Hopefully those numbers will go up in the next few years.

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    The great census report!

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    I think you have less trust as you get older.

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    Power does not always come from trust, sometimes the opposite happens.

  13. dofollow bookmarking Says:

    The result on that graph looks odd to me. However, it’s the truth. Sometime, what really happens is just different from your sense.

  14. how to jump higher Says:

    It’s a different era so it is natural that life has changed for people in their mid-20’s. Various dynamics exist now in society.

  15. HomeSecurity Says:

    A lot has changed since the 70s. A degree is now the minimum requirement.

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    Would like to know more。

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  18. Increase your vertical Says:

    So much has changed since the 70s, but still – this is a good report and its important to look back to our past to see where we are heading in the future.

  19. Improve Vertical Says:

    Well folks, I would definitely like to add something interesting into this discussion but unfortunately I am not able to.It’s a different era so it is natural that life has changed for people in their mid-20’s. Various dynamics exist now in society.

  20. ESL Jobs Says:

    This is a controversial article and it goes to wonder whether it is really relevant to today’s society.

  21. How To Increase Vertical Says:

    I think there’s a LOT of changes in youth in their 20s than those from the 70s. Life’s a lot different now than it was then.

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    Constance Flanagan, Peter Levine, and Richard Settersten are true experts in their field of expertise

  23. Jessie Jacob Says:

    I must say that education is a major factor of every person’s attitude or outlook in life. Youth of today think carefully before making a decision in order. They, educated young individuals, are more realistic/practical than the previous generation.

  24. Joshua Williams Says:

    Proper education affects almost all of the decisions of Youth today. They become more responsible when it comes to decision making. Actually, their top priority in life is to achieve something.

  25. automatic litter boxes Says:

    Transition to adulthood in 1970 & 2000 shown by the graph is a good way of analysis of civic engagement.Thanks for it.

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  27. Burn Xbox Games Says:

    The youth of today are more engaged than they ever have been….at least in my lifetime. It is a great thing to see.

  28. William Anderson Says:

    Decent Education contributes a lot in every person’s way of thinking. Most educated people are more concern to their society. In that way, they give more importance in every activity they are participating their social aspect.

  29. Women's Clothing Says:

    As the world develops before are dealing child bearing, some are even not bearing children. They are turning to their pet as their children.

  30. call answering service Says:

    I really don’t think that the education system can be compared in thios way to that of the 1970’s- so much has changed it’s a totally different playing field.

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    The bar graph regarding the civic engagement of age group 20-29 is very informative,thanks.

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    You raise many questions in my head. Statistics is cool but it doesn’t show the reallity. You wrote an excellent post, but it is also thought provoking, and I will have to ponder it a bit more; I will be back soon.

  36. Dog Behaviors Says:

    Great info. By the way, is there any present statistic?

  37. Bernd Says:

    Great papers. Really look forward to reading them.

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    REally usefull Informations looking to read more about youth civic engagement. Always interessting.

  39. jump manual Says:

    What’s becoming increasingly interesting to me is the way that testimonials of the transition to civic engagement get taken up as spectacle. For example, stories of self-transformation play key roles in soliciting potential new recruits

  40. arifallah younes Says:

    I think that you have less trust as you get older 🙂