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NUS spearheads discussion on transitioning to adulthood in Asia

25 July 2011

Prof Tan Eng Chye giving the opening address

Keynote speaker Prof Frank Furstenberg during the Q&A session chaired by Assoc Prof Paulin Tay Straughan from NUS

How do we prepare young people for a successful transition to adulthood given the many challenges they face as a result of significant structural and ideological changes in Asia over the past decades? What are the factors impacting their decisions about relationships, marriage, parenthood and their roles in society? These are some of the issues that were addressed at a two-day (21-22 July 2011) conference titled “Transitioning to Adulthood in Asia: Courtship, Marriage and Work”, jointly organised by the Asia Research Institute and the Family, Children and Youth Cluster of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, NUS.

Co-funded by Singapore’s Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and the National Population and Talent Division, the conference featured many distinguished speakers and experts from Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. They included Dr Setsuya Fukuda from Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Prof Frank Furstenberg from University of Pennsylvania, Prof Hiroshi Ishida from University of Tokyo, Prof Daniel Shek from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Dr Peter Xenos from Mahidol University, Thailand.

Delivering the opening address, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye said: “To help us bridge this generational gap, today’s conference, on transitioning to adulthood in Asia, is a particularly apt and timely one, that will hopefully help us better understand the lives, experiences and mindsets of a very important group of people, that is, our young adults.”

“The futures of our economies and societies rest squarely with our young people, who will one day, constitute the leadership of our governments and industries. How our young people view relationships, marriage, parenthood and their contributions to the economy and wider community will surely have many long term implications for our society,” he added.

During the conference, researchers from NUS and the Nanyang Technological University also shared their findings on factors affecting the transition of youth to adulthood in Singapore. They discussed government policies related to housing and fertility and showed the need to emphasise non-economic aspects for healthy transition from youth to adulthood.