Healthy development in young adulthood: Getting and staying “on-track”


Karver, Tahilin; Bell, Kelly J.; Terzian, Mary A.; & Moore, Kristin Anderson (2012). Healthy development in young adulthood: Getting and staying "on-track". 2012 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Young adults must navigate various developmental tasks as they transition out of adolescence into a new phase of “emerging adulthood” (Amett, 2004). During this phase, young people explore temporary roles before committing to the ones they will fill as adults. As a result, many young people today are increasingly “off track” relative to traditional expectations, with many not having achieved developmental tasks associated with adulthood. This study identifies clusters of young adults who represent various “on track” and “off track” behaviors, describes the characteristics of each cluster, and examines transitions between “on track” and “off track” clusters using data from Wave III and Wave IV. Analyzing a sample of adolescents aged 12 to 17 at Wave I with valid weights and non-missing on the dependent variables (N=8,361), the cluster analysis identified five distinct clusters indicating “off track” status (based on high school non-completion, financial problems, heavy alcohol use, drug use, and/or delinquency). Results indicate that 50 percent of respondents who were initially “off track” at Wave III (ages 19 to 24) get “on track” by Wave IV (ages 25 to 30). In addition, the majority of young adults (79%) who were “on track” at Wave III remained “on track” at Wave IV. Confirming our hypotheses, adolescent depression/suicidality and early child abuse are predictive of “off track” cluster membership in young adulthood.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2012 Add Health Users Conference


Karver, Tahilin
Bell, Kelly J.
Terzian, Mary A.
Moore, Kristin Anderson

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID