About the Clark University Poll

The Clark University Polls offer insights into how emerging adults, parents, and established adults view a distinct developmental life stage, identified by poll director and Clark Psychology Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, who coined the term "emerging adulthood." The Clark Polls consider a wide range of timely topics including financial support, sex and love, parenthood, work-life balance, career/workplace issues and more.

You can access findings below, beginning with the most recent 2015 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults: Work, Education and Identity, followed by the 2014 Clark University Poll of Established Adults, the 2013 Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults and the 2012 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults.

2015 POLL

Emerging Adults (ages 21 – 29)


New Clark University Poll surveys emerging adults on work, education and identity

Is college worth it? Clark Poll of Emerging Adults hears resounding 'Yes!'

Clark Poll of Emerging Adults: Good job matters most, even if social media blocked

Clark Poll findings offer myth-busting evidence for stereotyped emerging adults

2014 POLL

Established Adults (ages 25 – 39)


New Clark Poll finds millennials grown up, getting by, and OK about turning 30

Thirtysomethings on work: Most say enjoyment on the job trumps fat paycheck

Millennials with kids? They're loving it

New Clark University Poll: Grown-up millennials are closely connected to parents

Clark Poll: Married or not, most grown-up millennials say they have found 'soul mate'

Clark University Poll: Established Adults enter 2015 feeling positive, dreaming big

All Grown Up, Clark University's Poll of Established Adults


2013 POLL

Parents of Emerging Adults


Most parents and kids still talk more often than text

Parents say they had it tougher as young adults, but share their grown kids' satisfaction with life today and optimism about tomorrow

"I believe that overall my child's life will be better than my life has been." 69% of all parents agree, 85% African American parents, 74% Latino parents, 64% White parents believe their children will have better lives - Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults


College send-off can mean missing their BFFs

86% of parents surveyed describe their relationship with their 18- to 29-year-old as a current source of enjoyment.

Since my child was 15+ we... - Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults


Emerging Adults getting by with a lot of help from their parents

How much financial support do you provide to your child?
How much financial support did your parents provide when you were in your twenties?


Key to becoming adult? Being responsible for yourself

What is the key to becoming an adult?

Clark Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults: What is the key to adulthood?


Grown kids at home not cramping our style, parents say

Most parents (61%) described their response to their grown kids living at home as "mostly positive."

Clark Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults: 61% of parents are mostly positive about emerging adults moving home


Parents welcome emerging adults back to the nest

2012 POLL

Emerging Adults (ages 18 – 29)


Most Emerging Adults stay in constant touch with parents

Emerging adults are confident they'll get what they want out of life

Poll of Emerging Adults counters 'freeloader' stereotype

18- to 29-year-olds are traditional about sex, marriage and raising children

New Clark survey of emerging adults reveals views on education

  • Poll Methodology

    Clark University Poll of Established Adults 2014:

    • » 1,000 interviews with adults between the ages of 25 and 39 between April 12 and May 14, 2014
    • » The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.
    • » A mixed mode methodology was used for this project: 750 interviews were conducted via the Internet, 150 were conducted via landline telephone, and 100 were conducted via cell phone.


    • Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults 2013:

      • » 1006 interviews of parents of 18-29 year olds nationwide between March 29 and April 4, 2013
      • » The margin of error is +/- 3.6%.
      • » A mixed mode methodology was used for this project: 500 interviews were conducted via the Internet, 406 were conducted via landline telephone and 100 were conducted via cell phone.


      Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults 2012:

      • » 1029 interviews of 18-29 year olds nationwide between April 16 - 26, 2012
      • » The margin of error +/- 3.06%
      • » A mixed mode methodology was used for this project: 529 interviews conducted via Internet, 400 conducted via cell phone and 100 conducted via landline telephone

      Response demographics


      18-21 35%
      22-25 33%
      26-29 32%


      Male 51%
      Female 49%

      Highest level of education

      High school diploma or less 21%
      Some college or vocational school 51%
      4-year college degree or more 28%

      Current educational status

      In school full-time 44%
      In school part-time 37%
      Not in school 19%

      Ethnic group

      Latino/Latina 20%
      Asian American 5%
      White 60%
      African American 14%
      Other 3%


      Yes 26%
      No 74%

      Number of children

      0 71%
      1 16%
      2 9%
      3 3%
      4 or more 2%

      Hours employed per week

      None 28%
      1-10 11%
      11-20 17%
      21-39 20%
      40 or more 25%

      Highest level of education completed by mother

      High school diploma or less 29%
      Some college or vocational school 34%
      4-year college degree or more 37%

      Current living arrangement

      Live with parents 30%
      Live with friends or roommates 16%
      Live with husband or wife 23%
      Live with boyfriend or girlfriend 13%
      Live alone 14%
      Other 4%

      Current relationship status

      Married 23%
      Living with partner 10%
      Close boyfriend or girlfriend 22%
      Casual relationship 8%
      Occasional dating 7%
      No current relationship 29%

      Residential region

      Northeast 18%
      Midwest 21%
      South 24%
      West 36%



  • Clark psychologist leads emerging adulthood research

    Jeffrey Jensen Arnett is a research professor in the department of psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Dr. Arnett's primary scholarly interest is in "emerging adulthood," the period from the late teens to the mid-twenties (mainly ages 18-25). For more than a decade he has conducted research on emerging adults concerning a wide variety of topics and involving several different ethnic groups in the United States. He also studied emerging adults in Denmark as a Fulbright Scholar in 2005. Other areas of his research are media uses in adolescence, especially music and advertising, and risk behavior in adolescence and emerging adulthood, especially cigarette smoking. In the course of his work on cigarette smoking, he has served as an expert witness against the tobacco companies in numerous court cases, including the multi-state case that led to the largest civil settlement in legal history in 1998. More »

    • Dr. Arnett received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and did three years of postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago. From 1992-1998 he was Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Missouri. He has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University and the University of Maryland.

      Dr. Arnett is the father of twins Miles and Paris, born in 1999. His wife, Lene Jensen, is also a developmental psychologist at Clark University, specializing in moral development and in the development of cultural identity among immigrants. She herself was born in Denmark and immigrated to the United States in 1986, and the family visits Denmark every summer.

      In the news

      Dr. Arnett's research on Emerging Adulthood has been featured in dozens of national and international media outlets, including The New York Times Magazine, Today Show, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Toronto Star, Daily Mail (UK), Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.


      Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties
      By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (2006, Oxford University Press)

      In Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens through the Twenties, Dr. Arnett presents a broad and compelling portrait of the lives of today's "emerging adults." He argues that a new stage of life has been created in recent decades, lasting from about age 18 through the mid-twenties for most people, that is distinct from either the adolescence that precedes it or the young adulthood that follows it. Drawing on over 300 interviews, Dr. Arnett describes diverse aspects of emerging adults' lives, including relationships with parents, love and sex, marriage hopes and fears, college experiences, the search for meaningful work, religious beliefs (or lack of them), and perceptions of what it means to be an adult. In contrast to previous portrayals of this age group, Dr. Arnett describes emerging adults as wary but hopeful, strikingly optimistic even if their lives in the present are often unsettled. Their voices come through loud and clear in this insightful and provocative book.

      Emerging Adults in America: Coming of Age in the 21st Century
      Edited by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett and Jennifer Lynn Tanner (2005, American Psychological Association Press)

      This book resulted from the First Conference on Emerging Adulthood held at Harvard University in November, 2003. Twelve scholars contributed chapters on a wide range of topics, from cognitive development to mental health to sexuality to media use, and more. All were asked to summarize what is known and to present theoretical ideas about what a paradigm of emerging adulthood might look like with respect to their area. The result is a rich panorama of perspectives on emerging adulthood, covering a wide range of topics.

      Debating Emerging Adulthood: Stage or Process?
      By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Marion Kloep, Leo B. Hendry, and Jennifer L. Tanner (2011, Oxford University Press)

      Drs. Arnett and Tanner argue that as young people around the world share demographic similarities, such as longer education and later marriage, the years between the ages 18 and 25 are best understood as entailing a new life stage. Drs. Hendry and Kloep counter that stage theories—including the theory of emerging adulthood—have never been able to explain individual transitions across the life course and ought to be abolished altogether.


      Readings on Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood
      By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (Prentice Hall, 2002)

      Dr. Arnett has compiled a book of readings intended to serve as a companion to the textbook on adolescence. Like the textbook, the book of readings emphasizes culture as the context for development. Furthermore, as in the textbook, the book of readings covers not only adolescence but also emerging adulthood.


      Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach (4th edition)
      By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (2009, Prentice Hall)

      Dr. Arnett presents his theory of emerging adulthood, conceptualizing it as the age of identity explorations, instability, being self-focused, feeling in-between, and the age of possibilities. He describes this theory in some detail in the first chapter, and uses it as the framework for discussing emerging adulthood in the chapters that follow.


      Human Development: A Cultural Approach
      By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (2011, Pearson Education)

      Through research and examples from around the world, Dr. Arnett teaches students to think culturally about their own development and see how it applies to their own lives and future careers. Whether they travel the globe or remain in their home towns, in a culturally diverse and globalized world students will benefit from being able to think culturally about human development.

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