During the mid-1970s more than 1 out of every 6 Americans was a teenager. trend turned downward in 1975 relative size of the adolescent population decreased until 1995 during the last decade of the twentieth century—when the products of the baby boom began raising adolescents of their own—the size of the teenage population began increasing once again. In the year 2000, there were 20 million 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States, and an additional 20 million people were between 10 and 14. as we entered the twenty-first century, approximately 1 in 7 Americans were adolescents. The proportion of the U.S. population that is adolescent is estimated to remain at about this level through the next half century (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000) patterns of change in the size of the adolescent population vary considerably around the world, mainly because of different birthrates Social scientists track the size of the adolescent population for several reasons - changes in the number of adolescents may warrant changes in the allocation of funds for social services, educational programs, and health care, since adolescents’ needs are not the same as those of children or adults. - changes in the size of the adolescent population have implications for understanding the behavior of cohorts Baby boomers, for example, were members of a very crowded cohort. During their adolescence, they encountered a lot of competition for places in college, jobs, and so on. The size of this cohort also meant that it could attract a great deal of public attention, from politicians to advertisers. In contrast, members of Gen X, who were adolescents in the late 1980s and early 1990s, were members of a much smaller cohort, with less competition among individuals but far less clout. Because the Gen Z cohort, today’s teenagers, is considerably larger than Gen X, it will likely be much more influential. There are those who claim that age segregation has led to the development of a separate youth culture, in which young people maintain attitudes and values that are different from—even contrary to—those of adults. But some argue that industrialization and modernization have made peer groups more important, that adults alone can no longer prepare young people for the future, and that peer groups play a vital role in the socialization of adolescents for adulthood
B. Is There a Separate Youth Culture? The belief that age segregation has fueled the development of a separate—and troublesome—youth culture was first expressed more than 50 years ago, in The Adolescent Society, an extensive study of the social worlds of 10 American high schools (Coleman, 1961). According to the study, adolescents lived in a social world where academic success was frowned on, where doing well in school did not earn the admiration of peers, and where wealth, athletic ability (for boys), and good looks (for girls) mattered most.
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