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  • John Shrawder

Introduction to the Human Life Cycle - Events in the life of People from Age 15 to Age 35

Updated: Feb 24

We will continue to explore happiness and misery but we will also take a look at the human life cycle which is our the second recommended goal for high schools


Happiness and misery changes over the life cycle. The things that lead to happiness and misery for a person age 14 to 18 may be different from things that make people happy as young children. In the same way, we should expect the things that could make us happy or miserable in the future will be different. This will be a recurring subject of this course.

Factors affecting happiness and misery continue to change past age 30. However, throughout this class we will pay particular emphasis to the lives of average Americans as they pass from 18 to 30.


In this post, we will use 2019 time use survey to compare persons age 15 to 19 to older people. We will use this to estimate how the life of a typical teen will change as they approach age 35. The data on the chart are less detailed than the overall American Time Use survey. I will suggest ways that high schools can improve the outcome of people who transition through these periods.


To provide additional information on the journey from adolescence to age 35, We will introduce a second table assembled from psychologist Jeffrey Jenson Arnett from his 2005 book entitled “Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens”.


Many of the statistics on the following table are assembled from psychologist Jeffrey Jenson Arnett from his 2005 book entitled “Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens”.


The following are some opinions developed from this table.


Personal, Eating and Drinking, and Telephone and Mail. Time spent on personal care declines


Household Activities and Purchasing. The decision to move from a parent’s home is common between age 20 and 24. Purchasing decision making becomes more important between age 20 and 24. Bad decisions can lead to a drain in income and wealth. Household work increases gradually so people will have to learn how to maintain and repair technology.


Caring. This is unpaid caring. Caring for members outside of household increases between age 20 and 24. The Decision to marry and have children affects people’s lives. Caring for members inside ones household grows rapidly from .06 per day between age 15 and 19 to 1 full hour per day between age 25 and 35 with a smaller growth between 20 and 24. Caring for persons outside one’s household increases between age 18 and 24 but declines between age 25 and 35. Increasingly people need to care for others and how to receive care. This should be covered in health and social studies classes.


Work and Education. Persons must navigate a wider number of new institutions between age 15 and 35. Many of these are judged to be corrupt by many people.


Decisions about education and work are quite important and can be frustrating. Time spent in education declines from 3.48 hours per day between age 15 and 19 to .36 hours a day between age 25 and 35. While 70% of high school graduates attempt college, only 58% of these will finish within six years. Persons finishing college will typically carry substantial debt.

Work related decisions will be more important than education related decisions. About 89% of men and 77% of women will seek work between age 25 and 35. Time spent working will increase nearly fourfold from 1.24 hours per day between age 15 to 19 to 4.85 hours per day between age 25 and 35. People will hold an average of 7 jobs until age 30. Time to find a permanent job will take from 5 years to 17 years.


As people age they will need to communicate with a wide variety of new people in many institutions. These should be covered in English Language Arts and Social Studies.


Leisure and Sports. This will decline in importance 5.34 to 4.28 a day. After age 19, more time is devoted to work or school than leisure. Between age 15 to 19 and age 20 to 24, Leisure will decline by .4 hours per day and the combination of work and school will increase by .7 hours a day. To age 25 to 34, leisure will decrease another .6 hours a day while caring will increase .8 hours per day.


Organization activities. Declines to lowest point between age 20 and 24. Returns to high school levels after age 25. Still a problem ratio faster than leisure


Through age 18, most people are in school. Their decisions are monitored and protected by parents and schools. Between the age of 18 and 30 most people’s lives will change in varied ways.

  • In searching for happiness, students will make a variety of decisions regarding education, employment, debt, and building new families between age 18 and 30

  • Students should expect to make substantial change their interpersonal relationships through school, work, and family formation

  • Students should expect to become more autonomous decision makers and be more responsible for themselves and other people

  • Leisure will become less important while work and caring will become more important.


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