ADULTHOOD: Courtney has some interesting speculation on how "adulthood" has changed over the past few centuries. Additionally, nutrition and other factors have led to earlier menarche among girls in our culture than was common two hundred years ago. Thus, children are maturing sooner biologically and later socially than perhaps ever before; this certainly has an impact on our culture and society, but to what degree and in what form?
Lengthened adolescence and delayed assumption of responsibility do not bode well for the productivity of our civilization. Most college graduates are already over-educated for the jobs/careers that they end up in, and the 4 (or 5 or 6) extra years they spent paying to go to school rather than doing productive work are a drain on our economy. College graduates that then continue to live off the parental dole rather than get a job need a good kick in the pants. Sure, they probably won't be able to use their "Women's Studies" degree to pursue their dream job (if it even exists), but they should face that reality and try to learn a useful skill. Kids need to quit looking at college as a four year vacation and get serious about their lives.
The job market is tough right now. I've been helping some high school juniors with college applications and the like, and I've been advising them to major in something that will actually make them employable in a field other than retail. Accountants and nurses will always be able to get a job, for example; those who instead choose to major in "Chicano History" may be harder-pressed. If you choose to go to college, learn something useful or you're wasting your time. It's frowned upon these days, but many people would benefit a great deal more from attending a technical/trade school than a university.
I don't think I even need to go in to the horror of the drug abuse, sexual foolishness, and angst-ridden poetry that also results from this delayed adulthood.