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The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries: Selected Studies
accepted global norms and external economic realities. The circumstances under which today’s young people are assuming adult roles will have long-term implications for their future prospects and for those of their families, their communities, and the country as a whole.
Our results confirm the fundamental importance of schooling to transitions to adulthood in Pakistan. Without schooling, children in Pakistan are asked to assume the work burdens of adults prematurely and are deprived of the opportunity for learning in an institutional setting outside the family. Those who attend school eventually assume gender-stereotyped roles; however, they do so with some delay, which allows them to experience a longer transition to adulthood. For both males and females, there appears to be a substantial lag in years between the assumption of adult work roles and assumption of adult family roles as marked by the timing of the transition to marriage. For young males this is a lag between the timing of first paid work and marriage; in the case of young females it is the lag between school exit or (if never in school) the assumption of heavy domestic responsibilities and the timing of marriage and leaving home. Our data demonstrate the potential for change created by higher levels of schooling, vocational training, or formal-sector jobs. As Pakistan’s demographic transition continues (Feeney and Alam, 2003; Sathar and Casterline, 1998), family sizes become smaller, and women’s time becomes more flexible, greater educational and labor force opportunities should become available for young women.
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