Trends Among Young Adults Over Three Decades

Trends Among Young Adults Over Three Decades, 1974-2006



Released July 2012. This report describes patterns of continuity and change over time in four areas of the transition to adulthood among young adults as measured two years after their senior year of high school. The four areas are postsecondary enrollment, labor force roles, family formation, and civic engagement through voting or military service. The analysis population is spring-term high school seniors in 1972, 1980, 1992, and 2004. Analyses of these four cohorts of young adults represent their experiences in these four areas at four points in time two years after high school over a period of 32 years from 1974 to 2006. The data come from four separate studies: the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972, High School and Beyond), the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. Each study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to help fulfill a major purpose of NCES national educational longitudinal studies, which is to provide comparative data at different points in time that are germane to education policy and permit examination of patterns relative to education, career development, and societal roles.

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