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Young adulthood - ages approximately 18 to 26 - is a critical period of development with long-lasting implications for a person's economic security, health and well-being. Young adults are key contributors to the nation's workforce and military services and, since many are parents, to the healthy development of the next generation. Although 'millennials' have received attention in the popular media in recent years, young adults are too rarely treated as a distinct population in policy, programs, and research. Instead, they are often grouped with adolescents or, more often, with all adults. Currently, the nation is experiencing economic restructuring, widening inequality, a rapidly rising ratio of older adults, and an increasingly diverse population. The possible transformative effects of these features make focus on young adults especially important. A systematic approach to understanding and responding to the unique circumstances and needs of today's young adults can help to pave the way to a more productive and equitable tomorrow for young adults in particular and our society at large.

Investing in The Health and Well-Being of Young Adults describes what is meant by the term young adulthood, who young adults are, what they are doing, and what they need. This study recommends actions that nonprofit programs and federal, state, and local agencies can take to help young adults make a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood. According to this report, young adults should be considered as a separate group from adolescents and older adults. Investing in The Health and Well-Being of Young Adults makes the case that increased efforts to improve high school and college graduate rates and education and workforce development systems that are more closely tied to high-demand economic sectors will help this age group achieve greater opportunity and success. The report also discusses the health status of young adults and makes recommendations to develop evidence-based practices for young adults for medical and behavioral health, including preventions.

What happens during the young adult years has profound implications for the rest of the life course, and the stability and progress of society at large depends on how any cohort of young adults fares as a whole. Investing in The Health and Well-Being of Young Adults will provide a roadmap to improving outcomes for this age group as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Suggested Citation

Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2015. Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18869.

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Publication Info

502 pages | 6 x 9 | 

ISBNs: 
  • Paperback:  978-0-309-30995-0
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-30998-1
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/18869

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