The 2014 Clark Poll of Established Adults has issued its final report, which reveals that 25 to 39 years old are holding fast to the optimism and big dreams they expressed as younger or “emerging” adults.
Despite entering adult life during the worst recession in decades, today’s established adults appear remarkably contented and positive about the future. The Clark Poll found 86 percent of those surveyed agree with the statement: “I am confident that eventually I will get what I want out of life,” and 77 percent agree that “at this time of my life, it still seems like anything is possible.” Despite many forecasts that they face a future that is worse than what their parents experienced, more than two-thirds (69 percent) believe that “overall, my life will be better than my parents’ lives have been.”
The Clark Poll of Established Adults asks: How do these high hopes look by the time people reach their thirties? How do adults adjust their expectations when fond dreams harden into plain facts—not a dream job but an actual job, not a soul mate but a flesh-and-blood marriage partner, warts and all?
“More research exists today on midlife (ages 40-60) and later adulthood than on the thirties—yet, in many ways the thirties are a dramatic and important stage of life, when most people develop commitments to family and work, and also try to juggle the considerable challenges of caring for young children and making progress in a career,” notes Clark University Research Professor of Psychology and Poll Director Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D.
Professor Arnett coined the term “emerging adulthood”— the phase of the life between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood – and has led several studies on emerging adulthood. He also is the executive director of the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (www.ssea.org).
In the summary report of the 2014 Clark Poll of Established Adults, Professor Arnett writes:
This report offers an abundance of new information about ages 25 to 39, but it raises many fresh questions as well. What keeps 20 percent of 30- to 39-year-olds from feeling that they have not yet entirely reached adulthood? How can it be that so many established adults still believe that “anything is possible,” even after they have made commitments in love and work that clearly narrow the range of their possibilities and choices? Perhaps most importantly, what do we need to do, as a society, to ensure that all Americans have access to the education and training they need to prepare themselves for the information-and-technology economy of the present and the future? We hope the 2014 Clark Poll will inspire new research on these important questions.
The Clark University Poll of Established Adults is based on 1000 interviews with adults 25 to 39 years old nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 3.06 percent. A mixed-mode methodology was used for this project. Graduate Assistant Joseph Schwab co-authored the report and worked on research.
For more information about all of the Clark Polls, please visit www.Clarku.edu/clarkpoll.
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Mass., Clark University (www.Clarku.edu) is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education combining a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences.