Becoming a grown up means something very different than it used to.
That's according to "The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975–2016," a report released this month by the United States Census Bureau.
The report looks at how both the realities and perceived markers of adulthood have evolved over the past four decades, focusing on adults ages 18 to 34. The conclusion is that it may not be adulthood that's evolved, but the avenues by which it's reached.
"If one theme describes how adulthood has changed over the last 40 years, it is growing complexity," states the report. "In 1975, there was one predominant adult milestone — family formation — that people largely experienced during their 20s.
"Today, while the milestones have remained the same, the pathways are more diverse."
An adult today is educated and employed, though not necessarily married or a parent
A majority of Americans view education and employment as "extremely important milestones of adulthood," while more than half of young Americans believe that "marrying and having children are not very important in order to become an adult."
Most still marry, eventually, but singleness lasts longer. In the 1970s, 80 percent of Americans married by age 30. Now that same percentage will be married by 45.