Interesting policy questions emerge when legal rights, financial benefits and other supports that were developed with heterosexual nuclear families in mind do not extend to the broader diversity and complexity of family forms evident in modern societies. A variety of cultural, social and economic conditions has been identified as factors that are contributing to a prolonged transition to adulthood in North America.
These processes have been occurring over a period of time, but are increasingly evident and in contrast to the experiences of previous generations at the same age. Given increasingly tight job prospects and the importance of education for good jobs in a knowledge-based economy, more young adults are turning to post-secondary education programs and the gaining of credentials as a way to increase employment opportunities and earnings. In Canada and other OECD countries, almost half of those in their early 20s are attending educational institutions full-time.
Consequently, the tendency to stay in school longer, in conjunction with the extended time it takes to obtain employment in a related field, is increasing the average duration of the school-to-work transition. Although post-secondary education adds human capital for individuals and for society, the benefits of a university degree may not be evident when graduates have difficulty finding suitable employment, as has been the case in recent years.
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Those with only a high school education face an even more difficult time finding a job that pays a living wage. A complicating factor for many university graduates in Canada and the U. Student debt levels have escalated, particularly in the last decade, as tuition fees have increased — a function of limited government funding.
Current student loan programs require that graduates begin repayment almost immediately after graduation. In addition to the anxiety accumulated debt produces for students, it is a substantial impediment to gaining financial independence from parents and it contributes to delaying marriage, child-bearing, home ownership and other purchases.
Donna S. Lero, Ph.D.
A serious concern, reflected in a growing number of current news reports, is the challenge young adults have finding jobs that afford a living wage. Statistics Canada has reported that, in , Most telling is the finding that, among to year-olds, one-quarter The current pattern of delayed child-bearing evident in Canada is a natural consequence. People are having fewer children if any and having them later. Beginning in , fertility rates of mothers in their 30s has outnumbered the rates observed among mothers in their 20s. In , 2.
Rates of international immigration have increased dramatically in recent decades, spurred by greater opportunity to do so and economic needs. For many years, Canada has relied on international migration as a source of population and labour force growth. Resettlement policies and services aid in the transition of newcomers, promoting the learning of English or French, enhancing access to health and community services, and facilitating a smoother transition to the labour force.
Although newcomers may be more dependent on immediate family members for support, they experience wider discrepancies in expectations between generations in the family as a result of acculturation. For example, cultural and religious values may place particular emphasis on respect for elders and filial obligations to provide support, yet studies of immigrants from diverse backgrounds suggest that immigration and acculturation can place significant strains on newcomer families.
This can particularly be the case when aging parents expect filial support and reject formal support and their adult children face economic challenges that require their involvement in precarious employment, multiple jobs or work that involves long hours or non-standard schedules. In summary, multiple factors, including population aging, low fertility rates, increasing diversity in family forms, delayed transitions to financial independence and high rates of international immigration, affect the nature of intergenerational relations at both the micro and macro levels.
As the population in Canada continues to age, generations will share relationships for longer periods of time. View via Publisher. Save to Library.
Chris Harris, Nickie Charles and Charlotte Davies: Social Change and the Family
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