hood in developing countries is primarily on society and its institutions at the local, national, and international level, rather than on particular individuals or their families. Essential social supports for success include access to quality schooling and other educational resources outside the classroom, adequate health care, livelihood training and job opportunities, resources for civic engagement and family and community models, and supports for positive social development. The existence of norms and the availability and effectiveness of laws and institutions that can support the accomplishment of the major developmental tasks of adolescence must become a major and obligatory concern of any society seeking to enhance successful transitions to adulthood.

In light of these various considerations, the panel sought a conceptualization of successful transitions to adulthood that is both generally and locally applicable; that is predicated on preparation in prior developmental stages, especially adolescence, but also childhood; that is appropriate despite pervasive gender and socioeconomic disparities as well as different endowments and capabilities; that is open to shaping by both antecedent and subsequent life course interventions; and that recognizes the imperatives of contemporary global change. The defining attributes of such a conceptualization of successful transition to adulthood, which must be seen within the constraints of personal endowments and capabilities, include at least the following:

  • Good mental and physical health, including reproductive health, and the knowledge and means to sustain health during adulthood.

  • An appropriate stock of human and social capital to enable an individual to be a productive adult member of society.

  • The acquisition of prosocial values and the ability to contribute to the collective well-being as citizen and community participant.

  • Adequate preparation for the assumption of adult social roles and obligations, including the roles of spouse or partner, parent, and household and family manager.

  • The capability to make choices through the acquisition of a sense of self and a sense of personal competence.

  • A sense of general well-being.

Although no claim can be made that this is an exhaustive listing of the attributes of successful transition to adulthood, it does capture what the panel views as essential components of that process. What can be claimed is that the essential components listed can serve as a guide for the interpretation of a conceptual framework (presented in the next chapter) as well as for the design and targeting of societal interventions to maximize the attainability of those attributes.

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