How Are America's Young Adults Doing? New Report Takes a Look

America's Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014

A new report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics paints a portrait of the 31.2 million young adults in the United States. And much of the news is positive. For example, compared to previous generations of young adults today's 18- to 24-year-olds are are more racially and ethnically diverse, more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, and less likely to smoke.

At the same time, they have more student debt than generations past and earn less than their counterparts in the year 2000. And more than 1 in 5 young adults in the United States is obese.

Other notable findings:

  • The overall college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 26 percent in 1980 to 41 percent in 2012. Continuing a trend since the early 1990s, young women are enrolling in college in greater percentages than young men. In 2012, 44.5 percent of young women were enrolled in college versus 37.6 percent of young men.
  • Birth rates for young women have reached historic lows in the United States. The birth rate 18– and 19-year-old women was 51.4 per 1,000 in 2012, down from 94.0 per 1,000 in 1991. The rate for 20- to 24-year-old women fell from 116.5 per 1,000 in 1990 to 83.1 per 1,000 in 2012.
  • Between 2007 and 2010, young women (27 percent) were more likely to be obese than young men (19 percent). 
  • From 2002 to 2012, the prevalence of substance-use disorder among young men decreased from 28 to 23 percent. A smaller percentage of young women (16 percent) had substance-use disorders in both years.
  • From 2005 to 2011, the prevalence of major depressive episode was about twice as high among young women (10 to 12 percent) as among young men (5 to 6 percent).

Read "America's Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014."

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children & Families.

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