What Alters the Experience of Emerging Adulthood? How the Experience of Emerging Adulthood Differs According to Socioeconomic Status and Critical Life Events

Monique Landberg, Bora Lee, Peter Noack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The present mixed-methods study examined the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and the experience of emerging adulthood (EA). In Study 1, the associations among SES, EA, and critical life events (CLEs) were explored. CLEs were examined as a mediator between SES and EA in a German sample (N = 3,269). Participants’ educational attainment, SES, and occupation-related prestige were associated with the experience of EA. For example, lower SES was associated with higher perceived instability, with more experienced CLEs mediating this relationship. Lower SES was associated with a higher number of CLEs, which, for example, was related to more focus on others. In Study 2, interview data from emerging adults with low educational attainment who were engaged in vocational training (N = 12) were analyzed. In addition to reporting many CLEs, themes regarding their perception of their current life phase were established, indicating that low-SES youth experience aspects of EA as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-222
Number of pages15
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 1



  • critical life events
  • disadvantaged young adults
  • emerging adulthood
  • mixed methods
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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