Today’s Youth Have Higher Expectations for the Future

The youth of America today have a better education, less labor force participation, delayed family creation and higher expectations for the future than their peers in 1980, 1990 and 2000, says a National Center for Education Statistics report released this week.

The report, ‘America’s Youth: Transitions to Adulthood’ compares the current generation of youth and young adults in the United States to youth and young adults in 2000, 1990, and 1980.

Other findings from the report include:

  • The number of youth and young adults (from the ages of 14 to 14) increased by 0.9 million since 1980 from 46.2 million to 47.1 million. However, their percentage of the U.S. population declined from 20 to 15 percent.
  • The current generation of 18 and 24 is enrolled in school at higher rates than their predecessors in 1980. In 2009, some 69 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds were enrolled in school, compared with 46 percent in 1980.
  • About 52 percent of 20- and 21-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2009, compared with 31 percent in 1980, and 30 percent of 22- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2009, compared with 16 percent in 1980, the report says.
  • The number of young adult males (aged 20 to 24) in the labor force has dropped over ten percent since 1980. The number of young women in the labor force dropped only one percent.
  • Between 1980 and 2010, the percentage of persons ages 20 to 24 who owned their own home decreased from 38 to 19 percent.

Data for the report came from NCES and other federal surveys and is a product of the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education.