..and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.'
― Maya Angelou

To turn 18 and reach a legal age is one and the same in Sweden, but when do you really grow up in a modern society? The answer is: Much later than in the old days.
“Most young people don’t think you’re an adult until you’re done with your education, have a job, your own apartment and a salary that means your independent,” says Mats Trondman, youth researcher at the Linnaeus University in Växjö. “And that corresponds pretty well with how society in general views what’s adult.”
But if you rewind a couple of generations, the view was different. Then the passageway into adulthood was confirmation. In the 1960’s, when the period of education grew longer for many, a person in his or her 20’s could still easily get a job, a place to live and thus become adult.


“Today most people have turned 30 before getting what most of us associate with adulthood,” says Trondman. “That means they live a third of their lives before they get there. At the same time, there are signs that children and young people grow up way earlier than they used to, because they are closer to adults than in the past. Children today are involved in decision making, and many children are precocious.”
The delayed entrance to adulthood isn’t necessarily something negative, according to Thomas Johansson, a Professor in Pedagogy at Göteborg University. “I think many want a longer period of youth; youth is attractive in our culture, and there are many positives connected to being young.” Temporary jobs, fluctuating incomes and sublet living arrangements may for a while do very well for young people who live a life full of travels, who want to try new things, and who want to look for their identity with as much personal freedom as possible. Sooner or later though, most want a permanent place to live, a job that yields independence and also a family – all of which we think of when we think of adulthood. “Young people themselves know that the road to the symbols connected to adulthood isn’t necessarily open, but they also know that it’s their individual responsibility to find the solutions. It’s tougher than it used to be, there’s no Volvo factory there calling for young people,” Trondman concludes.