What are the signs of being a grown up?

Adam McDonnellAssociate Director of Political and Social Research
Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
March 02, 2021, 10:15 AM UTC

Britons put emphasis on fiscal responsibilities as a sign of growing up, and most began to feel that way by their early-twenties

What makes an adult an adult? YouGov’s latest research, conducted for BBC documentary Club 18-30, asks Britons what are the signs that youth is fading, and someone is on the fast track to being a grown up.

Overall, Britons are most likely to say that owning your own home is a “very good” or “fairly good” indicator of being grown up (84%), followed by 78% who think having a full-time job is a good marker of being grown up, and a similar proportion of people (76%) who think moving out of the family home is as well.

A majority (70%) also think that shopping around for deals on your household bills is a good sign you are a grown up, while just shy of two thirds (65%) think that graduating university is also a marker of adulthood (however only 44% think that going to university means someone is grown up).

Around six in ten people tend to think that getting married (62%), knowing your credit score (62%), and meal planning (61%) also show you are a grown up.

While a large majority say that fiscal responsibilities such as home ownership and bills are good signs of being grown up, they are less likely think that having children is a good indicator of being grown up at 52%.

Among the indicators that fewer than half of Britons think are good markers for someone being a grown up are passing your driving test (47%) and getting excited about buying cleaning products (44%).

Getting excited over cleaning products as a marker of being grown up is more popular with people aged 34 and under, 57% of whom say this is a good marker of grown up compared to 41% of those 35 and over. Those aged 34 and under are also more likely to think that having strong opinions about the stacking of dishwashers is a good marker of age (39%, versus 30% of the 35-pluses).

By contrast, those 35 and over are more likely to think that talking about the weather is a good indicator for being grown up (32%) compared to those 34 and under (19%).

What age did Britons first feel grown up?

Many of these indicators can occur at any age, however, so YouGov also asked Britons at what age they felt started to feel like a grown up. Age 18 (11%) is the most common single answer, unsurprisingly as it is the age at which adulthood legally begins. While 7% first felt grown up at 21, it is slightly later in the early twenties (between 22 and 23) when over half of adults say they began to feel like a grown up.

However, some 13% of Britons feel they still have not grown up. This figure is highest among the young at 33% of the 18-24 year olds, as well as 19% of those aged between 25 and 34, and 16% of people aged between 35 and 49. Among 50-64 year olds, 7% report still not feeling like a grown up, as do a youthful 5% of those 65 and over.

See full results here