Relationship and Financial Uncertainty during Emerging Adulthood

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Monica LONGMORE, Bowling Green State University, USA
Wendy MANNING, bowling green state university, USA
Peggy GIORDANO, bowling green state university, USA
Jennifer MCMILLIN, bowling green state university, USA
In the U.S., emerging adulthood is the stage in the life course in which individuals are expected to traverse the landscape of adulthood, without having to necessarily commit to adult roles. It is a pivotal age period (18 to 29 years) characterized by role exploration. Yet there are societal expectations that individuals will establish stable intimate relationships and gain financial independence from parents. Furthermore, there is always the possibility of role failure. Young adults may lose their jobs, fail to pay bills, and easily make missteps in intimate relationships. Likewise, an economic recession like that of 2008 can cause young adults to experience an uncertain financial terrain (Van Horn, Zukin, Szeltner, & Stone, 2012). This combination of exploration and expectations can lead to subjective feelings of uncertainty. Broadly defined, uncertainty is a state or situation in which an individual is unable to readily define an outcome. Moreover, compared to the recent past, establishing conventional markers of adulthood, such as establishing financial independence and stable relationships can be difficult, and as a result, can leave emerging adults distressed. Using the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (n= 928) we explored the mental health outcomes associated with economic uncertainty and relationship uncertainty. Examining anxiety, depressive symptoms and low self-esteem, among an emerging adult sample (ages 22-29) using ordinary least squares regression, we found that relationship and economic uncertainty were both moderately common experiences. In multivariate analyses, relationship uncertainty was related positively to anxiety and depression, and negatively related to self-esteem. Likewise, economic uncertainty was related positively to depression and anxiety, and negatively related to self-esteem. Additionally, modeled together, relationship uncertainty and economic uncertainty remained positively associated with anxiety and depression, and negatively related to self-esteem. This research added to an understanding of unexplored areas of mental health vulnerability in emerging adulthood.