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Benson, Janel E. & Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr. (2006). Entry into Adulthood: Are Adult Role Transitions Meaningful Markers of Adult Identity?. Advances in Life Course Research, 11, 199-224.


This chapter uses data from the Philadelphia Educational Longitudinal Study (PELS) to examine the extent to which acquiring adult-like roles, including completing education, establishing an independent residence, obtaining a full-time job, entering into a partnership or marriage, and becoming a parent, alters young adults’ subjective adult identity between the ages of 19 and 21. Although we find that both entering and exiting adult roles significantly predict the acquisition of an adult identity, young adults do not view all role transitions as markers of adulthood. Establishing an independent household, becoming a parent, and experiencing a reversal in any transition significantly alters youths’ subjective sense of feeling like an adult. We also find that the meaning of role transitions varies by youths’ social position, as well as by the other roles they simultaneously occupy.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Advances in Life Course Research


Benson, Janel E.
Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr.