This report was prepared to assist federal, state, and local policy makers and program leaders, as well as employers, nonprofit organizations, and other community partners, in developing and enhancing policies and programs to improve young adults' health, safety, and well-being. The report also suggests priorities for research to inform policy and programs for young adults.
Young adulthood - ages approximately 18 to 26 - is a critical period of development with long-lasting implications for a person's economic security, health and well-being. Young adults are key contributors to the nation's workforce and military services and, since many are parents, to the healthy development of the next generation. Although 'millennials' have received attention in the popular media in recent years, young adults are too rarely treated as a distinct population in policy, programs, and research. Instead, they are often grouped with adolescents or, more often, with all adults. Currently, the nation is experiencing economic restructuring, widening inequality, a rapidly rising ratio of older adults, and an increasingly diverse population. The possible transformative effects of these features make focus on young adults especially important. A systematic approach to understanding and responding to the unique circumstances and needs of today's young adults can help to pave the way to a more productive and equitable tomorrow for young adults in particular and our society at large.