Mon July 30, 2012 2:03am
THEY may be 21 years old, but young people see the milestone as an excuse to party rather than a graduation to adulthood.
With traditional markers of maturity like moving out of home, marrying and completing education stretching into the late 20s or early 30s, the landmark birthday is regarded more as a chance to party than the end of childhood.
A study that has followed all the babies born in two Melbourne suburbs in 1990 found only 38 per cent of 21-year-olds believed they had definitely reached maturity.
Another 13 per cent were adamant they had not reached adulthood, while 49 per cent were ambivalent, saying "yes and no".
Whether they classified themselves as mature adults depended on their personal situation, said Janet Taylor, senior researcher at the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
"Some are keen on adulthood and their independence and their maturity, but some were saying 'I am not ready'," she said. "For some, the fact they were earning independent money and making their own decisions made them feel adult and for some they liked that they didn't have to take adult responsibilities yet.
"A lot who are studying are also working part-time jobs so there is a mixture of independence and dependence."
Of the 140 subjects in the survey, half were studying at university, 27 per cent were in full-time paid work, 10 per cent were studying at TAFE while 13 per cent were parents themselves, unemployed or working part time.
A surprisingly high 72 per cent were still living at home.
Amy Winstanley, 20, said she believed her generation put off having children to pursue other opportunities, unlike previous generations who settled down sooner and had children younger.
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