why is 18 most commonly seen as when you become an “adult”?


Is it just because that’s when you’re done with high school? College is still fairly “expected”, so why isn’t that counted?
I don’t understand why most/a lot of cultures view 18 as that turning point, even though we know the brain isn’t even fully developed until 25.

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Quite simply because it’s what many nations set as their age of majority. This comes with many rights (and responsibilities), and the legal difference it makes is important.

That said, the age is somewhat arbitrary. In times gone past, some countries used 21 as the age of majority. Others use 16.

College being expected is a recent thing. Knowledge of brain development is also a recent thing.

The specific age is largely arbitrary but something had to be picked. By 18 most humans are done with physical outward growth. They are fully capable of doing adult tasks and performing at adult work levels. Before modern MRI scans and such there is nothing to distinguish most 18 years olds from those at 30. But in many cases a 16 year old is noticeably different from that 30 year old. Until recently by 18 people were often getting married, setting up their own households and having children. It hard to claim someone with children is legally still a child except under unusual circumstances. All this combines to a good break point between childhood and adulthood.

There is also the effect of standardization. Once one jurisdiction picks 18 its hard for others to use some other age. Can’t have an 18 year old in on state or country traveling to another state or country and all of sudden being a minor again. Or 16 year olds becoming adults when traveling.

Adulthood has changed from culture to culture and generation to generation. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s adulthood was considered 21 in the USA, where voting became permitted. But the military accepted people as young as 18, so adulthood was dropped to give a vote to those who could potentially be drafted. In theory this enabled them to vote on candidates that might enter or abstain from a war, giving them a chance to Influence this.

In previous centuries it was measured by puberty. Some cultures still celebrate one as a a man or a woman at 13, when puberty occurs on average, although this isn’t necessarily a legal adulthood, just a culturally recognized adulthood.

Some would place the age of consent as adulthood, and this varies from 14 and up.

The age of adulthood is entirely arbitrary, and is chosen entirely by cultural and societal pressures.

That’s the age you legally turn adult in Germany. You have to set any number, don’t you?

The important thing is that it is considered enough to be responsible, not necessarily fully developed.

One might expect more responsibility from a 12 year old than a 4 year old. This does not make a 12 year old an adult.

The majority of young people going to college is not universal even today. Even in developed countries, having the majority of young people college educated is probably less than a 50 year old phenomena (and is certainly less than 100 years old). The current global average for some college attainment is approximately 40% by some estimates.