EP 381 The Science of Achieving Adulthood is Changing and Many Are Abandoned in the Transition

  In 2017, research showed that 4.5 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 were neither in school nor working.  Falling into that gap is a far different experience than the one enjoyed by more affluent and socially connected people that age who can take a ‘gap year’ between high school and college and explore numerous opportunities afforded to them by their families,  Like so many yawning social issues in our society, it begs for attention just as the science suggests that this period from the late teens to the early 20’s is still a time of brain maturation.  And given our low birth rates in this society, we don’t have a young person to waste if we are going to have a strong society in the future.  According to Anne Kim, the author of ‘Abandoned’, policymakers haven’t caught up with this group who are aging out of programs, if their education ends in high school, and may be emancipated in the eyes of the law, to a very uncertain existence. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic these young people may fall further behind in terms of their life chances. These may be the same young people who live in opportunity deserts, urban and rural, where few jobs exist in their communities.  While much focus has been placed in the recent period on the importance of early childhood education, little attention has been paid to this age cohort and their difficulties as they face the challenges of emerging adulthood.  It’s an important conversation.  Please listen in.