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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries
international communication and transportation (Behrman and Sengupta, 2005).
In contrast, there is a divergence of experiences across regions. Young people making the transition to adulthood in Asia, where the majority of young people live, have been doing so in rapidly expanding economies. Most young people in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean have been making these transitions in stagnant or even declining economies. Furthermore, health among young people is improving in most places but deteriorating in sub-Saharan Africa. While marriages take place at older ages in most parts of the world, there has been no recent delay in marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite continuing increases in school enrollment rates among young people. While rates of early childbearing have decreased substantially in most parts of the world, they have increased slightly in South America. While the percentage of young people having sex before age 18 is rising in some places, it is declining in others. While some young people are engaged in wars and civil strife, others are voting for the first time. While some young people are accessing the Internet, others have never been to school. Thus, despite global changes that have led to a convergence of experiences among young people in certain domains of life, the experiences of many young people remain sharply divergent.
Young women have been making very rapid progress in school, and gender gaps in school enrollment and attainment are closing. Indeed, they have been eliminated in Latin America and the Caribbean and a few other countries. Young women are also much more likely to enter the paid labor force than in the past. As marriage is delayed in most parts of the world, age gaps between spouses are narrowing. This is typically interpreted as a sign that the traditional disadvantage that women experience in marriage, in terms of access to resources and a role in decision-making, is declining slightly. Furthermore, there is some evidence that, relative to the past, marriages are more likely to involve some choice of partner on the part of the bride and groom. Nonetheless, young women’s overall work burden, as measured in weekly hours, still exceeds that of young men, even when they are students, and these differences in work burdens continue to shape adult gender roles. Furthermore, in many parts of the world, the content of textbooks and the attitudes and behavior of teachers continue to socialize boys and girls into traditional gender role expectations, even as overall levels of grade attainment rise.
Globalization and trends toward greater democratization have changed the opportunities for youth civic and political engagement. At the same time that young people express greater voice at the local, national, and international levels, there is greater awareness among young people of global diversity and inequality as a result of globalization, democratization, rising rates of schooling, and growing access to the media. Recent survey