How 30 Became The New 20

You might have heard people say that 30 is the new 20. In my opinion, this statement is mostly true- if in a somewhat undesirable way. Let me explain..

You see, from the dawn of civilization to the 1980s most people starting living fully adult lives sometimes between their late teens and early 20s. So they had reasonably stable “careers”, wives, kids etc by the time they were in their mid-20s. Of course, there were wars, famines etc- however for the most part adulthood started at sometime from 17-24.

Adulthood does not start until your early 30s in developed countries, and is increasingly so for developing countries.

Today people finish high school at 18-19, do an undergrad or multiple years of community college, start a few shitty job in their mid-20s, reevaluate their career choice, do some further training etc and IF they lucky.. find something worthwhile by their early to mid-30s.

To put it another way- we have delayed adulthood by a decade, if not more.

While there are a host of popular reasons to explain this shift, most people miss the obvious one.

There are simply not enough well-paying jobs for everybody.

Technological advances have increased productivity to levels where we can make and service more with fewer people. This trend is not new. Prior to the second phase of the industrial revolution, child and adolescent labor was essential in many industries because of their low productivity. Indeed, compulsory education for children was meant to reduce the available workforce rather than educate kids. Laws against child labor were also motivated by economic considerations.

The third phase of the industrial revolution increased productivity still further giving us the, now universal, 40 hour work week. Western Europe went one step further with 6 week vacations, work sharing arrangements etc. There is, however one catch, with making 30 the new 20.

It is far more disruptive that banning child labor, introducing 40 hour work weeks or giving 6 weeks of paid vacations.

Most human cultures did not expect 14-15 year olds to be adults, nor was working only 8 hours per day undesirable. If anything, the results were largely positive and increased consumption of goods and services. Delaying family formation till your 30s does however introduce a whole host of problems, and then some more.

For starters, many men are pretty jaded with women by their late 20s. Combine that with feminism, job instability, sexual promiscuity and easy divorce make family formation a losing proposition. However a significant part of the economy, and economic predictions, depend on the continuation of family formation patterns which are now essentially dead.


  1. April 30, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I’m pretty jaded with women, and I’m 20. I’ve already decided that I don’t want to have kids long ago. Maybe there will soon be something like a bachelor tax here, just like when Rome was collapsing.

  2. Chris
    May 1, 2011 at 1:13 am

    How many middle class whites do you think understand these simple facts? Less than 5% ?

  3. May 1, 2011 at 1:29 am

    They can delay adulthood to 30, but they can’t delay aging and death to 150.
    Consequently, this pattern is not for the benefit of men.

    • May 1, 2011 at 1:58 am

      And I know this very well from my personal experience.

      That’s why taking revenge from those who made this possible is not a bad idea.

  4. Deus
    May 1, 2011 at 5:21 am

    I agree with this 100%. I’m 21, but feel more like I’m still 15.

    • May 1, 2011 at 6:21 am

      I feel like I have grown up, and everyone else is still 15.

      • Deus
        May 2, 2011 at 12:45 am

        Let me rephrase that. I’m 21, feel I have the maturity beyond my age (maybe 30+), but feel I am as close to adulthood as when I was a teen.

  5. PT Barnum
    May 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

    It is important to realize that you swim in a sea of lies. America is lies. And more lies. And still more lies.

    Why is there an eight hour workday? Because that’s about as high as you can push it before productivity starts declining. The fact that crazed American big bosses rave about how they did it because they are “generous” is simply them lying more.

    A 12 year old is physically small and intellectually undeveloped, so you really don’t get much out of them. Yes, yes, the English tried. They also tried slavery. Remember what the Founding Fathers said about slavery? That is was inefficient. That didn’t stop the lunatic animals from fighting a massive and destructive war to try to keep something that wasn’t even beneficial to them.

    Right now, they are increasing hours, even though it is inefficient, because exploiting labor as much as they can is ALL THEY KNOW.

    Do you imagine that 20% unemployment is efficient?

  6. May 2, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Kay Hymowitz called, she says you’re giving her a headache.

    Delaying family formation till your 30s does however introduce a whole host of problems, and then some more.

    Sexual market value depreciation aside, one very important complication is that as women approach 40 and beyond, child birth, pregnancy and birth defects become progressively more hazardous.

    • remy
      June 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      what??? i thought 40 is when they begin to eat, pray and love???

  7. Deus
    May 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Delaying adulthood until 30 is a bad thing for women, but a boost for men, many of whom achieve peak physical maturity in their late 20’s (the 18 stuff is crap btw).

  8. j
    May 8, 2011 at 3:24 am

    No. There is no fixed number of jobs. There is an infinite demand for people ready to do some work. There are people who have nothing to sell, they are useless and unemployable.

    • P Ray
      February 13, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      There is an infinite demand for people ready to do some work at below market prices, without proper regulations being followed, in dangerous places without proper equipment.

      Fixed that for you, no charge.

      As Cracked says “Slavery is the gold standard for employment”.

  9. greenlander
    May 8, 2011 at 10:31 am

    No. There is no fixed number of jobs. There is an infinite demand for people ready to do some work. There are people who have nothing to sell, they are useless and unemployable.

    Exactly. The argument that there is a fixed “lump of labor” argument is a fallacy.

    If you can add $100K+ worth of value, then you can get a $100K job. If you’re truly capable of adding that kind of value but can’t find an employer, then start your own gig and be your own boss.

    If you’re a sociology major, you probably can’t add $100K of value… so you better get used to saying “would you like fries with that?”

    • dano77
      August 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      both j and greenlander must live in a pipe dream. here’s a doze of reality. The population is ever increasing and many people that are close to retirement age (65) are holding on to their jobs because money doesn’t go as far as it used to. therefore there is a huge imbalance in our society, which in combination with other factors is why the economy is getting worse and the infrastructure/domestic situation throughout north america is in decline. get your heads out of your corporate box and take a good look at what is really going on.

  10. May 8, 2011 at 10:51 am


    What I know of business, and it ain’t much is that you would need to ad waaaaay more than 100K in value to get a 100k job.

    For example, I know some sales gigs where the sales reps are expected to write $1 Million for their 35-60k “career.” Those who don’t cut it go on UI. So to become a six figure sales rep, you’ve got to close closer to 2-2.5 million….

    Now, as you stated above, if you own your own business and you can bring in 100k, after costs, then yes you’ve made yourself some money….

    So to get that 100k, looks like you’ve gotta bring in probably 20 times that for an employer or make that after expenses as a self employed person.

    • P Ray
      February 13, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Yup. Same here in Asia.
      An employee, in 1 month, has to be able to turn over 2 years’ worth of their salary,
      to keep their job.

      Greenlander has not yet been able to answer about where the “high paying software jobs” are.

      I figure that people who talk about “everybody is getting high pay”, that cannot give a specific example beyond either shysters like Steve Jobs or cutting edge developers like John Carmack (who works in a team) …
      are either not in the field, are hopelessly uninformed, or just like “sounding like an authority, despite providing no proof”.

  11. (R)Evolutionary
    May 10, 2011 at 8:15 am


    “Sexual market value depreciation aside, one very important complication is that as women approach 40 and beyond, child birth, pregnancy and birth defects become progressively more hazardous.”

    Simple solution–make sure you only impregnate young women, while maintaining your own sperm motility and mobility through healthy diet & exercise. Men’s sperm quality may decline also, but it’s not nearly so linear, and much more dependent on lifestyle and other factors.

    • Indo Pride
      May 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      Tell that to all the autistic kids born of elderly sperm.

      30 should be the cut off age for marriage. 35 tops. By 35 if a man has not replicated his gene pool, he should just give up, get a vasectomy and remain a happy bachelor for the rest of his life.

      • August 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

        Older established men have had plenty of children throughout history without autism epidemics. If anything age gaps in marriage were greater in the past. On the other hand, large percentages of females trying to have first pregnancies in their 30s has been very rare historically. Traditionally women were considered expired by age 30 or so.

  12. Lifelong Learning
    July 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    For the record, businesses did not magically grant workers a 40 hour work week. The labor movement members fought for that.

  1. May 8, 2011 at 1:02 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: