"This," I write below "is a real and meaningful change from the recent past . . . that deserve [s] a more thoughtful treatment than what you get from Laura Sessions Stepp." The internet delivers in the form of Kieran Healy's writeup of a new book by Stanford sociologist and social demographer Michael Rosenfeld, The Age of Independence:
Since around 1960, increasing numbers of young people have left home but without themselves starting families soon afterwards. Instead they go off to college by themselves, and then perhaps move to work in a city, surrounded by people much their own age and, like themselves, unmarried. This is the Age of Independence. It can last ten or fifteen years. Much as the teenager emerged as a social category and life-stage in the early post-war period, the Age of Independence becomes established as a phase in people’s lives. [...]
Now, I’m not a social demographer, or an expert on family structure, and I haven’t read the book in great detail. But the book’s approach is appealing. It connects issues of individual identity and choice to very broad social-structural change through a study of changes in the life-course. And it can explain just the kind of issues that David Brooks and—rather more clearly—Matt Yglesias pick out. Worth a read.