Keywords

adulthood, work-life balance, developmental theory, lifespan development, psychosocial development

Abstract

In developed countries, the years from Age 30 to 45 are, for many, the most intense, demanding, and rewarding years of adult life. During this period of the life span most adults must negotiate the intersecting demands of progressing in a chosen career, maintaining an intimate partnership, and caring for children. Successes or difficulties in meeting these simultaneous demands have the potential to profoundly influence the direction of a person's adult life. As such, we believe that it is of critical importance to better understand this developmental period that we call established adulthood. This article provides a new theoretical conceptualization of established adulthood, outlining its distinctiveness from emerging adulthood and midlife in terms of physical health, well-being, cognitive development, and the career-and-care-crunch of competing work and family responsibilities. We also consider variations in the timing and experience of established adulthood, including variation by gender and social class, and provide suggestions for future research. As economic and social arrangements continue to evolve, so too will this developmental period, providing fertile ground for developmental theory and research.

Original Publication Citation

Mehta, C., Arnett, J. J., Palmer, C. G., & Nelson, L. J. (2020). Established Adulthood: A New Conception of Ages 30 to 45. American Psychologist, 75, 431-444. doi.org/10.1037/amp0000600

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2020-5

Publisher

American Psychologist

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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