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WHAT MAKES AN ADULT

A survey asked: "People differ in their ideas about what it takes for a young person to become an adult these days. How important is it for them to be ..." Only slightly more than half the respondents thought marriage or parenthood was a necessary component of adulthood. Andrew J. Cherlin, professor and author, writes that "Today, marriage is more discretionary than ever, and also more distinctive. It is something young adults do after they and their live-in partners have good jobs and a nice apartment. It has become the capstone experience of personal life - the last brick put in place after everything else is set. People marry to show their family and friends how well their lives are going, even if deep down they are unsure whether their partnership will last a lifetime."

© 2013 New York Times

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