Who’s complacent? Your teenager?

…teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into adulthood. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the U.S. who have a driver’s license, who have tried alcohol, who date, and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade.

The declines appeared across race, geographic, and socioeconomic lines, and in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

…Between 1976 and 1979, 86 percent of high school seniors had gone on a date; between 2010 and 2015 only 63 percent had, the study found. During the same period, the portion who had ever earned money from working plunged from 76 to 55 percent. And the portion who had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 1976 and 1979 to 67 percent between 2010 and 2016.

Teens have also reported a steady decline in sexual activity in recent decades, as the portion of high school students who have had sex fell from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics.

Teens have also reported a steady decline in sexual activity in recent decades, as the portion of high school students who have had sex fell from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics.

Here is the Tarah Barampour WaPo story.  Is it evolutionary psychology pushing us more into a more stable mode of behavior for safe circumstances, or perhaps teens being more aware of the need to build their resumes?  Or something else altogether different?

These developments are mostly positive, both as symptoms and as active causal agents, and yet…

Somewhere along the line there is a positive social payoff from risk-taking, including sometimes from teenagers.  How would rock and roll evolved in such a world?   Who is to help undo unjust social structures?  The graybeards?


More porn. Less social skills. New (hateful and sexist) "feminism". Twitter. Rape witch hunts.

Better video games.

I think you're right although i think video games is probably number two to porn. I also would add in social networks.

I just didn't think of video games because I didn't play them much.

I think this is basically correct. I think the "politics" angle in discussing declining award show and sporting events audiences overlooks how much competition there is from new and improved entertainment options. This is true even for sex, evidently.

Smartphones. Apps. Netflix. Twitter. Who's got time for alcohol or sex?

To repeat myself, better video games must be added to the list, if not head the list.

I don't play videogames, but I agree with Thor: people are trading (timewise) sex for videogames, I have even seen it happen literally!!! (guy that I knew who is kind of goodlooking says "no time for girls" and keeps playing videogames the whole weekend , weekend after weekend!)

There's a simple explanation. Video games reward hard work and effort at a regular rate. Dating rewards hard work and effort irregularly, with even that rate multiplied by some function of mostly-constants (genes, wealth, geography).

Video games are a sure thing.

Who is to help undo unjust social structures? The graybeards?

May be...


The internet has happened. As a long time watcher of people, I very rarely see young people talking to each other in person- they all seemingly their phone in their hand looking at it instead.

Same goes for those in their early to mid-20's. It's strange. I'll be at an event, and they're all sitting around at the table looking at their phones, including the married ones.

Can even phones get married now?

Yes, many marriages are phony.

I couldn't even be friends with someone like that. When I see someone get out their phone and start tapping away I want to slap them.

" How would rock and roll evolved in such a world? "

Guitars? Meh, We have Auto-Tune now. Punk? We pose for luxury lifestyle pictures, the more the lesser our social status is.

" Who is to help undo unjust social structures ? "

How much 'just' revolt is to be expected, from a generation that thinks 'just' is what misandrist feminists do, or racist "civil rights" organisations. When 99% of the revolt is directed at white males, but the homophobes, racists, misogynists of the world go unchecked when either non-men or non-white?

" These developments are mostly positive "

Are they? What ever causes it, it will cause a lot more late-stage puberty, so I guess "mattress girls" and safe spaces were just the beginning...

” These developments are mostly positive ”

My guess is here Tyler is focused on how teens aren't drinking as much. Alcohol is one of Tyler Cowen's greatest bogymen.

Teens with less deliriums are a good thing, but...

...to sound condescending on anglo-saxonian culture: could the phenomenon of binge drinking long after adolescence be in any way related to the cultural disdain for alcohol? How can be a elaborated consummation be obtained if everybody acts like nobody consumes at all?

Except that his wife and stepdaughter both appear to drink alcohol, if one of the pictures he has posted on a GMU page is to be trusted.

BUT what if adolescence hasn't been repealed but merely delayed? Perhaps eighteen is the new fourteen, and 28 the new 21?

Adolescence has always involved trying on different identities for size (although that now risks accusations of cultural appropriation) along with a focus on oneself and on having fun (because responsibilities can come later). It's just that much of this (and yes, binge drinking) is now being done by those in their twenties.

The generals control the White House. Political witch-hunts oust tenured professors. The world feels like it is on the verge of nuclear war. Students feel like they're living in straight-jackets of helicopter parents, social coercion, and expectations. Well, remember the two decades that came after those 1950's.

Most Americans teens are likely turned off by the abject degeneracy and the complete worthlessness of their parents' and grandparents' generations, the GenXers, the Boomers and so on. The "markers of adulthood" are nothing more than social signifiers for the legions of brain dead morons who run most of the institutions in the United States. Teens can smell the bullshit and hypocrisy that their parents and the ruling generations exude from miles away. There is no need to actively oppose the rot and degeneracy of any institutions in the United States. It is sufficient to simply sit back and enjoy watching them collapse in real time. And if it strikes your fancy, perhaps to engage in some trolling to further radicalize the brain dead against each other, and watch them go at each other's throats.

Meh. Rock n roll is just amplified pathology.

Overall this is a combination of harder academics (demanding more time) and addictive social media (demanding all of the remainder).


+ Big brother society -> no playing outside... and videogames...

I watched the four-part series "The Defiant Ones" about Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine and something that struck me was how Dre became very interested in music and DJing at a young age. That was his hobby and all that he wanted to do, so he got really good at it. That was in the 70s of course. Nowadays, does anyone have hobbies? Other than as resume fodder? Do people have the time to just experiment and find things that interest them and practice them?

Many teenagers play musical instruments and post videos on YouTube. Paul McCartney had to travel across London in the 50's to learn to play a B7 chord but now anyone can easily learn from the net. I saw a local teenager at open mike night play percussive guitar as well as anyone on YouTube.

Indian parents encourage their teenagers to study. I attended a monthly Python meeting in Austin a few years ago where the featured speaker was an Indian teenager describing how he automated his house to an audience of 60 people 25-75 years old.

The human brain peaks at age 18-25 and declines slowly. You're coasting on your knowledge by age 40. It's an enormous waste to incarcerate children in government schools and send young adults to colleges that promote socialism.

Find me a teenager who can play anything by Liszt. (Yes, there are some at the conservatories.) Liszt is hard enough to read, let alone play.

Its Lead in the blood.

20 years after Leaded Gasoline become widespread in America : World Wars, Man in the Moon, Crime Wave, War on Drugs, Rock on Rolls, Woodstock, 60s

20 years after Leaded Gasoline banned in America : low crime rate, low teen pregnancy, cooperative non-rebellious youngster

Leaded Gasoline push man to become more than they are, they push man to overthrow social stricture, they push man to listen to their id.

nah.....sounds like a plum bum hypothesis.

It isn't the lead, rather it is the catalytic converter. And the 55 MPH speed limit. And the rejection of the metric system. Or maybe Emerson Lake and Palmer.

RIP Emerson and Lake (pretty recently for both)

That explains why the same thing happened in all those other countries leaded gasoline was introduced and then withdrawn from. Oh, wait...

As for the war on drugs, surveys have found that drug use has not declined since the "war on drugs" was started. The rate of unwed motherhood is higher than its ever been. Teens might be behaving better, but adults aren't. And that low crime rate? Still significantly higher than it was in 1960.

As noted at Metafilter when discussing this passage from the article - 'According to an evolutionary-psychology theory that a person’s “life strategy” slows down or speeds up depending on the person’s surroundings, exposure to a “harsh and unpredictable” environment leads to faster development, while a more resource-rich and secure environment has the opposite effect, the study said.'

Mefite clawsoon - 'If I'm remembering E. A. Wrigley's "Population and History" correctly, the age of marriage and first childbirth went up (and the number of children went down) most often in English history during the times of greatest inequality and resource constraint. In the Anglo world - and in many other cultures, too, I suspect - the mechanism that translates resource constraints into delayed adulthood and childbearing is [drumroll, please] housing. There's strong pressure not to start a family until you can afford a house.'

And as further noted by Mefite jb regarding that comment - 'But what do demographers know? I mean, they just study actual population trends. We should just listen to that evolutionary psychologist with no data and an inane theory, not the demographers or the director of research on actual families.' http://www.metafilter.com/169529/I-havent-heard-of-anyone-who-goes-out-anddrinks-with-their-friends

Quite a bit of snark in that last paragraph, thought that it might appeal to you.

Interestingly I found the comments at mf uneven, and likely to be inferior to what will be posted here, re: this topic. In fact Criky (below) nails it.

Snark? Read the two paragraphs in front of jb's comment (a commenter who was a historian before becoming a research administrator), which was not included out of a now seemingly misplaced attempted at brevity - 'You remember exactly correctly. Age of marriages climbed in the 17th century, as the economy for labouring people was stagnant -- and the birth rate flatlined and so did the population.

When the industrial revolution created more jobs c1750, the age of marriage dropped, the birth rate thus rose, and the population of England and Wales started growing -- and hasn't stopped since.'

The fact is that using actual data, the evolutionary psychology argument espoused in the Post article is simply wrong. As further noted in the metafilter discussion, by the way, with another commenter pointing out 'Ignoring for now the shaky foundations of evolutionary psychology in general, this argument ignores the fact that the teenagers of the 60s and especially the 70s came of age in one of the most prosperous and materially/economically comfortable societies the world has ever known.' One assumes that most of the American commenters at this web site can remember that dim age of the past, even if they are uninterested in UK historical demographics.

Good point prior_test3. Let people subdivide and build.

In 1960 US women had just under 4 children each. In 1998 it was 2. That's half as many kids per adult. This means more adult supervision per kid and more investment per kid. In addition, the job market for school leavers looks pretty dismal compared to 1976 so youth are economically weaker than they are and so have less options than in the past. Add the fact that police will now throw your arse in jail for getting in a fist fight (It probably counts as terrorism these days) there is absolutely no surprise at all that US kids are more controlled now, both internally and externally, than in the past.

And getting the lead out wouldn't have hurt, but lead was not required for risky behaviour, as history shows.

'In 1960 US women had just under 4 children each. In 1998 it was 2'

Careful with the averages, as American fertility in 1976 and now is roughly equal - 'Fertility rates in the United States declined sharply between the baby boom years of the 1950s and early 1960s, and 1976 (118 and 65 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age for 1960 and 1976, respectively). Since the 1970s, fertility rates have been relatively stable, varying between 63 and 71 births per 1,000 women. There were small peaks in 1990 and 2007, but rates have since gone down, and are the lowest in recent history, standing at 63 per 1,000 women in 2014.' https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/fertility-and-birth-rates/

The baby boom ended in America before the time frame this article is referring to, though obviously someone born in 1960 was a teenager in 1976. However, someone born in 1976 would be 16 in 1992, six years before 1998, though a number of these trends started in the 1990s.

The drinking one is less mysterious, of course - the laws in many parts of the U.S. regarding drinking age changed dramatically in the 1980s MADD era, along with stricter alcohol enforcement in general.

"In 1960 US women had just under 4 children each. In 1998 it was 2. That’s half as many kids per adult. This means more adult supervision per kid and more investment per kid."

But do they actually supervise? Or do they encourage their (male) children to have sex so they won't be considered losers?

"The American revolution" has hugely gained in status in my mind these past few years. People took an enormous risk for what was basically an abstract idea.

Agree with Tyler's general point about risk-taking...
> Who is to help undo unjust social structures?
Is that ironic? I genuinely can't tell. Undoing social structures is the one thing the kids seem interested in (at least to talk about).

I don’t think this is positive at all.

In an automated economy, social skills are going to be far more important than who can do a differential equation most effectively.

Also, think about mental health. No wonder so many of our young people suffer from mental health problems: I’d imagine a big proportion of those are people with no social lives and no social skills. Something that is mirrored in their entire generation.

Tyler you contradict yourself.

"or perhaps teens being more aware of the need to build their resumes? " because earlier you note that "and who work for pay has plummeted". So they aren't building resumes. Now you might say they're spending their time volunteering instead but then "adolescents in the U.S. who have a driver’s license....has plummeted" and since in the vast majority of the US you definitely need to drive to go anywhere these kids are not getting out at all.
I guess you think they're all at home studying hard for the SATs so they can get the shot to rack up student loan debt for the shitty STEM degrees?

From discussion with some teens, there is no contradiction here. Building a resume for teens who want to get into a good university doesn't mean accumulating paid jobs, but rather doing unpaid community service and social activities at school or around.

I addressed that point.

Yeah, but there are other ways to get around. I went to high school in a city that really wasn't walkable. I didn't get a car when I was able to, because I didn't see the point. Some of my friends had cars so most of the time we carpooled and pitched in for gas. When that wasn't an option I biked to where I needed to go or road the bus. It's entirely possible that the reason kids are not getting a license as early is because in a large number of cities there is more traffic than there used to be and because this generation sees less of a need for the status symbol.

Why artificially delayed adulthood should be considered positive? Farragut was 12 when he brought home the captured Essex in 1813. He wasn't acclaimed because he was a child-prodigy, but simply because he was a great seaman, whatever the age. At the times of the Revolution, if your family could pay for it, you had your education until 12-14 years old, in many cases with all the content of today high-school or more, and then you were expected to be a productive member of society. If you wanted to study more, it was typically a hobby, to pursue in the evening or in general taking the time from that free of the main occupation.

Then the standardized public school happened, first with Bismarck and then in the rest of the world. Those weapons of mass instruction (definition of Gatto) made a big chunk of humanity prisoner of a asphyxiating, dehumanizing, Orwellian system for 15 years or so. Everybody is supposed to go at the same speed, losing the slower in the process and often the most intelligent, bored to death. You treat people like children, they become children (my personal experience was in the military). If you do it with children to start with, they remain children. Making choices, experimenting, is intrinsic to the process of becoming an adult.

The web gives us the possibility of breaking the standard obscenity that is today schooling. Kids can learn at their own pace, in a tailored program, without implying an increase in cost (it would be and it actually was possible even without the web, but it would take time to go in detail). In my opinion it would be great to seize on the opportunity and going back to the natural state, in which people is treated and behave like an adults at the time consistent with nature, which is just after puberty. The State will of course delay it, through one of his most mephitic arms, the teacher unions. Hopefully freedom will prevail, and standardized k-12 will end up the way university is ending up with MOOCS like Coursera or Edx, in the dustbin of history.

I stil think the Navy should not accept nine-year old boys. Brazil's Army stopped accepting five-year old hiys a long time go and military readiness actually got better.

Women like tall, muscular men. The percentage of high-schoolers who fit that description has plummeted dramatically since the 1960s.

yes, but no. The Biggest Casanovas don't need to be tall or muscular... but again if guys have 0 social skills its a dead end

Average heights are up and I would guess that there are actually more muscular men today. Gyms are way more popular and if you see movies from the pre-1980 era you'll notice the men were a lot more "normal" looking.

Average heights are up

Not for high school aged people. They're down. (20something percent of the country being East Asian and Hispanic will have that effect)

Gyms are way more popular among actors. You couldn't join a gym 30 years ago without a membership commitment but now it's easy to go month to month. You'll have a tough time getting an acting job today if your body isn't sculpted at the gym.

As one who engaged in loads of risky behaviors as a teen (and suffered a number of corresponding negative consequences) and is now the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely pleased that my kids appear to be more interested in academics and friends than drinking and fucking.

Regarding advancing social change, the contemporary kids I see ARE social change. Gay? Dark skin? Who cares?

So what they were doing at 17, is postponed until 27. (drinking and fucking). Not sure if it is a good development to start adult life so late...

Because adukt life = "fucking" and drinking Such is today's America...

Well, I agree people don't fuck in brazil. Putaria!

Guess you have to go to Paraguay for that.

Brazilians lead normal and dignified lives, which are very different from American debauchery-centered lifestyle.

Don't knock it til you try it.

It is sad to watch hopelessly while America slides further and further down the slippery slope to the ash heap of History.

People are living longer. Correspondingly can start developmental stages later and still have the same duration for drinking and fucking activities.

Same duration, not the same quality. Do the 60 year olds look any younger today?

"Marisa Tomei is actually a year older as Aunt May in Spider-Man Homecoming than Rue Mcclanahan was when she started filming Golden Girls."

"Regarding advancing social change, the contemporary kids I see ARE social change. Gay? Dark skin? Who cares?"

People who don't want to have gay or dark skinned kids?

The way I said was not clear. I meant that the kids in the contemporary generation (that I know) seem to not care at all if people are gay or what their skin tone is. It's just not an issue to them. Of course my sample of kids is small (the ones I know) but that impresses me.

Someone is forgetting marijuana. The only age group that is against legalization is precisely graybeards (65+) https://today.yougov.com/news/2014/01/10/over-65s-only-age-group-marijuana/

This is case of young people doing whatever they can to provoke old people. If the young smoked tobacco and drank at 15, they only would make old people feel better.......because the old would think the things they did are still socially acceptable. So, there's a trade-off. If you reach old age you'll be disconnected from new trends. The only cure is to die early. Choose one.

Expense is a factor. Taxes on alcohol and cigarettes have made indulgence in them too expensive for jobless youth, especially when cell phone contracts are their number one priority. Of course, government regulation has eliminated their ability to even hold most well-paying jobs. Group photographs of mining and logging crews from the early part of the twentieth century show them to be made up mostly of teen-age boys. As for sex, it's no secret that government policy can make the natural act of reproduction a crime that hangs a financial millstone around a teen-age Lothario's neck for decades. Why take the risk?

Even tough, alcohol is more affordable today compared to 1950 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3631317/

Could partnofnitnhave to do with real life starting later and later and preparatory life growing longer and longer?

Rebellion has all been done before. I mean when your grandparents were punks what is left for you to prove.

20% more HS seniors enter college than 40 years ago. The difference in those working over that period - 20%. The others are features not bugs. All the looking for a reason why only to miss the one big reason that could explain it.

Life expectancy is increasing. I'd like to see these stats relative to the life expectancy of the time. What do people do in the first 25% of their life? Life expectancy has increased by 8 years since 1970, I wouldn't be surprised to observe a 2 year delay in starting doing things (8*25%).

Life expectancy is increasing slowly, not enough to explain protracted childhood.

The root cause would seem to be the drop in employment of teenagers. Teens who have their own source of income are more likely, historically, to drink and engage in other "high" risk activities. Employed teens have more of a social life away from the family and generally greater independence with fewer restrictions. Most students would benefit from a concentration on studies rather then employment.

The stigma of taking a low wage entry job seems to have increased for many youngsters. And alternative ways to spend recreation time has increased: internet, video games, online communication etc. Not to mention that they are a generation raised with structured activities often supervised by adults.

Girls have traditionally been the controllers of the dating scene. It seems that young females today are more driven by the need to compete in school and for future careers then the dating world. At least on the margin.

It is easier for parents to monitor children through the use of technology. Youngsters and parents are in daily contact to a much greater degree.

The legal and financial costs of drinking and driving have increased. While the risk and cost of drug use has declined. Rehab has replaced criminal charges to a large degree.

Penalties for sexual advances have increased from both a social and criminal perspective. This seems to vary amongst different groups, but being a "player" is a much higher risker activity these days.

More men at home. The males missing in the workplace are home blocking unsupervised activities.

I did have to laugh at the closing part of the article.

"Still, she agreed with her daughter that the world seems more treacherous now than when she was a teen. “Climate change is super real, and it’s obviously happening as we speak,” she said. “Maybe the scary things about being an adult are so much more concrete right now that it’s just safer to not become an adult.”

Previous generations had the great depression, world war, the threat of nuclear war, Vietnam, race riots, AIDS, etc. Just fill in the blank.

never heard of a company hiring teenagers
and good thing they drink less

All true about social media, videogamers, and other time-suckers, but you've all missed the big reason why today is so different than the 60s and 70s and 80s.

These Days, Parents Actually Raise Their Children.

If you're over 45, there's a good chance you were pretty much raised by wolves. That is, other children. You can argue which way is better, and I'm sure you will, but it's undeniable that today's method leads to much less drinking and fucking by 16-year-olds.

If you’re over 45, there’s a good chance you were pretty much raised by wolves.

Uh, no. My parents contemporaries had more children, different priorities, and husbanded their time and effort. The cultural crevasse between people born in 1935 and people born in 1960 was wider than that between people born in 1960 and people born in 1985 and there were features of life much more foreign to the experience of the older generation 4 decades ago than is the case today (and elements of experience the Depression babies had that there own children never did).

"it’s undeniable that today’s method leads to much less drinking and fucking by 16-year-olds."

This is far from the truth.

Not over 45, but yes, raised by wolves. It has it's pros and cons.
I probably had a lot more fun than kids today. But sometimes I'm amazed I didn't get myself killed, or worse.

"much less drinking"

Yes, but adderall abuse is rampant.

I keep hearing this but haven't been able to lay my hands on any of the good Adderall yet.

"If you’re over 45, there’s a good chance you were pretty much raised by wolves."

So what? Mogli was raised by wolves and he turned out pretty well.

Youngsters travel in packs more and pair off less readily (and are less enamored of each other than was the case a generation ago), large pools of immigrants make the labor market less congenial for the youngest workers, and liquor has lost some of the thrill of transgression. The first and the third are not in and of themselves disconcerting and the second is derived from a phenomenon the moderator likes.

There's another metric that's more troubling. The ratio of marriages contracted in year x to persons born in year x-26 declined by 25% between 2000 and 2014.

Yes, to the pack thing, but it's actually a kind of alternate dating strategy. It's a way of getting to know someone before actually "asking them out", or without ever formally asking them out. I don't think teenagers are actually any less enamoured once they pair off though. The pack allows for a wider selection of potential partners and more time to consider which one one likes the best. There's more jostling and rearrangement of social relationships which should result in more optimal and stable pairs.

My teen and pre-teen kids fit the mold of the day. I was a pretty tame well-behaved teen in the 80s, but compared to my kids I was a hell raiser.

Back then, with no internet, phones tethered only to the wall, only occasionally entertaining TV, and video games that could only keep your attention for short periods, we had to look outside the home to escape mind numbing boredom. That meant more time without adults just around the corner. That meant more trouble.

My kids actually have more friends and more active social lives than my friends and I did in the 80s -- not just online, but also face-to-face. With parents also having cell phones, it's easier to arrange drop-offs and pick-ups rather than dump-offs at the mall or skating rink.

What about kids just going down the street to hang out with friends? I'm not sure what you blame it on -- but my kids' friends are spread out all around the school zone. It would be great if the neighborhood was full of their friends, but it's not 1950s Des Moines, Iowa.

Yes, we used to ride our bikes all over the place in the 80s, but those were in smaller towns or smaller suburbs. When suburbs were new, they consisted of families with young kids. The suburbs have some age on them now with much more varied age ranges. Our streets are much busier and aren't exactly bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The suburbs aren't what they used to be.

It's kind of strange. We parents are not making this happen. In fact, we talk to each other and marvel at how little trouble our kids get in to compared to our teenage experience.

But then, maybe the kids of the 50s up until the 90s internet were the weirdos. My grandparents' generation took on adult responsibilities sooner. But they had a pretty tight leash as kids. For my grandparents' generation, dating may have consisted of a visit on the front porch swing.

The 50s to the 90s kids had a lot more leisure and freedom, but also a lot more boredom. They weren't engaging in the same adult behaviors that their parents were.

Today the kids still have freedom and leisure, but minus the boredom. So, kids aren't leaving the house, chunking rocks at things, humping each other, and self-medicating like they used to.

Interesting perspective.

When I was a teen in the late 90s/early 00s, my friends were scattered all around, too. Prior to drivers' licenses, we mostly got around by bus. I realize this is not possible in most of the US. though.

There might be a problem with definitions, as what I might consider a date or sex or an alcoholic beverage or a job is not so considered by today's young people. Is a hook up a date? Is oral sex or mutual masturbation sex? Is a fruity drink with low content alcohol an alcoholic beverage? Is work in a gig economy a job?

If you're not getting paid, it's not a job.
If you're not having a conversation, it's not a date.
If you're not penetrating an orifice between the legs (vagina or anus), it's not sex.
If you're not having fun, life's not a blessing, it's just existence.

"If you’re not penetrating an orifice between the legs (vagina or anus), it’s not sex."
It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.

An interesting book on this topic is iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M Twenge. She has the research to back up the changes in past few years. She sees a need for risk taking. A thoughtful book.

The Atlantic had an article excerpted from that book:


The collection of charts is interesting.

I rewatched The Good Place this week. As I finished up, and thought about the news, the new "healthcare" bill, it stuck me that this is government by the Bad Place crew. In the sense that it isn't complete torture, it's just pointless cruelty, as "what we do."

Who is complacent?

integrals of irrationality for they are intervals without diminishment their visage is half bent, slanted, enchatned without end, recherché, éclat, the elan vital of a roman numeral!

Snorting the unicorn horn again

Is TC telling us that the rough stat of c. 40% of entering US college freshmen required to enroll in remedial coursework has nothing to do with the poor overall quality of American public education? that the Boomers who've been "improving" public education over the past half-century actually improved educational attainments, social integration, and cognitive outcomes?

A wild and out of control adolescence is the norm; it is sold, supported, monetized, and the opposite laughed at.

Rebellion is not doing what is expected of you.

My 16-year-old son and his friends all have jobs and driver's licenses. They also hang out in person pretty regularly. I know full well that personal anecdotes don't refute general statistics, but it does make me question the thesis of this article.

I wouldn't be surprised if girls didn't drive much of this change. My oldest daughter and her friends seemed to match the description offered here.

I wonder if the reason for the decline in "dating" isn't at least partly because modes of social interaction have changed such that a formal "date" is not really how boys and girls get to know each other anymore. Presumably "dating" involves setting a particular time for two people to knowingly meet each other alone, and there's a lot of pressure involved in both setting up a date as a formal acknowledgement of courtship, and with the consequent rejection if the girl doesn't like the boy (or vice versa). It's way easier to pseudodate as a group of friends hanging out, where there's no expectations that one specific person is dating another. If the girl doesn't like the boy (or vice versa), the boy can just pretend that he wasn't interested anyway and see if one of the other girls in the group likes him. So nobody has to actually ask anyone out or hurt anyone else's feelings by explicitly rejecting them. This seems to me like how things actually happened when I was in my 20s. Formal dating was too awkwards and most people just didn't really do it until AFTER they hooked up with someone. The sex came first, and then the dating.

Risk-taking might be good socially, but if I take the wrong picture or say the wrong thing online, it'll follow me for life, and possibly erase hundreds of thousands of dollars in lifetime earnings.

Risk-taking is BAD individually. Straight-and-narrow leads to degrees and high-paying jobs and not spending all of your time around communities that need code-words to sound pleasant.

I hope you know, this will go down on your PERMANENT RECORD!

But really, maybe the internet needs some sort of personality wipe once kids turn 18. Like the "right to be forgotten" in France.

Perhaps it is just increased neoteny in response to larger risk-reward payoffs rather than smaller ones.

In an 'average is over' world, there's very little differnce between being the 85th percentile and the 50th, but increasing returns to being in the 99th. Childhood type behaviors including play have been shown to increase learning and creativity, and therefore might be a normal adaptive response to trying to become 'the best' at something.

It used to be that people pointed to the 1950s and thought the eternal past was just like that, in terms of social attitudes, gender norms, ect. The more knowledgeable understood that those attitudes were actually quite different from what came before. Now, it seems that people think of the 1970s and 1980s that way, forgetting what came before. The whole sex-drugs-rock-and-roll with anyone who doesn't partake in it as a loser thing is a new phenomenon, and I suggest it didn't last very long because, like pet rocks or laissez-faire economics, it was never a good idea in the first place.

Are people just adjusting their time preferences because of the likelihood of longer lives relative to prior generations?

It's probably porn and video games...

via https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/910395284949172224

"Against experts' predictions, children have become better at holding out in the marshmallow test in the last 50 yrs."


> Have children gotten worse at their ability to delay gratification? We analyze the past 50 years of data on the Marshmallow test of delay of gratification. Children must wait to get two preferred treats; if they cannot wait, they only get one. Duration for how long children can delay has been associated with a host of positive life outcomes. Here we provide the first evidence on whether children’s ability to delay gratification has truly been decreasing, as theories of technology or a culture of instant gratification have predicted. Before analyzing the data, we polled 260 experts in cognitive development, 84% of who believed kids these days are getting worse or are no different. Contrary to this prediction, kids these days are better able to delay gratification than they were in the past, corresponding to a fifth of a standard deviation increase in ability per decade.

"How would rock and roll evolved in such a world?"

How many dead teens (from drunk driving) is a rock song worth?

I'm curious what the reduction in these activities is by BMI. Being overweight leads to less 'adventurous' activities? Just a first guess.

Advances in self-domestication leading to more juvenile behavior patterns further into "adulthood", per Haidt's hypothesis.

Sperm counts are also way down. These are all just symptoms of the decline and coming end of men. Will they be missed?

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