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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

Myron Gutmann photo

Three Eras of Young Adults Home Leaving in Twentieth-Century America.

Publication Abstract

Gutmann, Myron, S. Pullum-Pinon, and T.W. Pullum. 2002. "Three Eras of Young Adults Home Leaving in Twentieth-Century America." Journal of Social History, 35(3): 533-576.

This article divides the history of coming of age in the U.S. in the twentieth century into three distinct time periods: one that ran from 1880 until World War II, one that started in the 1940s and continued until the 1960s, and a third that began by 1970 and was clearly still in evidence in 1990. The story is based on data that recorded whether young people were living with one or both of their parents at the time of each of the decennial censuses of the U.S., from 1880 through 1990. The dramatic finding reported here is in the history of home-leaving ages up until the time of the second world war. Earlier studies assert that the age of home-leaving was declining from as early as it could be measured until 1970. These results are different. From 1880 until 1940 for males and 1950 for females, the age at leaving home did not decline, it rose. The decline came later, from 1940 (men) and 1950 (women). Beginning with 1970, the age of home-leaving rose again, reaching relatively high levels by 1990. The results also show that home leaving ages varied by race, sex, and region, among other factors.

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