Determining The Legal Age Of Adulthood

1. Adulthood: Age Of The Majority

The age of majority ranges internationally from ages 15 to 21, with 18 being the most common age. The reasons why 18 years of age is the world’s social standard for defining adulthood are mainly:

  1. Nearly all humans have finished puberty at this age [Physical Milestone]
  2. Most people complete their compulsory education by 18 years of age [Mental Milestone]
  3. It is the predominant legal standard that almost every country uses [Common Legal Standard]

In particular, a younger cohorts’ attainment of adulthood centers on three criteria: gaining a sense of responsibility, independent decision-making, and financial independence. Sometimes there is the requirement of supervision by a legal guardian, or just by an adult. Other times, there is no requirement, but rather a recommendation.

Reaching adulthood implies: 1. Having all the freedoms of an adult, and 2. the individual’s parents no longer have a legal obligation to provide for them. If one has all the freedoms of an adult, but their parents still have to provide for them, it can create a game-theoretical conflict if they are still living in their parents’ home under their parents’ rules.

2. Arguments Why 16-Year-Olds Should Be Considered Legal Adults

  • Most women and some men complete puberty at 16 years old, and most men complete puberty at 17 years old, although this does vary by person and race.
  • At 16 years of age, humans will have decent reasoning skills to make their own decisions for themselves.
  • If people become adults and complete their secondary education at 16 years old instead, then that gives them 2 additional years to live their lives the way they want to.
    • Even after 13 years of compulsory education, most people still don’t everything that they need to know because public schools are terrible at teaching rational thinking.
    • If better education created by market competition and a more intellectual culture were available, people could probably learn the same stuff in 11 years instead, by the time they become 16 years old.
  • If people remain under legal guardianship for another two years after 16 years old and their parents’ house simply isn’t a good environment for them, then they can leave that mediocre or suboptimal situation 2 years earlier by becoming a legal adult.
  • If people are told that they are adults and that they are responsible for their own actions, then there is some psychology to make them believe that they are adults and act like adults.
  • It is known that the average human doesn’t completely finish their brain development until 25 years of age. Although 25-year-olds would probably be able to make better decisions than their 16-year-old past-selves, brain development should not be used as a metric to determine adulthood. The ability to make rational decisions regarding one’s life should be the true metric.
    • Furthermore, people don’t need to be 25 years old to make important life decisions. I’m sure a 16-year-old wouldn’t either, assuming that they are rational and were given a comprehensive education.

People should be considered adults at 16 years old instead of 18 years old. If a 16-year old can get a job, drive a car, manage their own finances, complete puberty, date people, and finish high school (under a better education system), then they should be granted the same liberties that an 18-year-old has. But it should be noted that children are a lifelong commitment and investment, not something to be disregarded after 18 years or whatever the age for legal adulthood happens to be.

Comicstrip on the Drinking Age.

3. Using An Age Range Instead Of A Flat Age?

  • Or maybe the system could be set up so that 16 years old and 17 years old can choose to become adults if they have completed their secondary education (among other requirements) if they want to. And then everybody else who met the requirements but chosen not to become an adult, or everybody who had not completed secondary education by 18 years old automatically becomes an adult at 18 years old.
  • People start to do actions associated with adulthood at different ages, so this suggests that it would be more appropriate to use an age range instead of a flat age.
  • Since mental and physical development varies by race, this implies that different races may be ready for adulthood at different ages than others.
  • To an extent, the concept of adulthood is a social construction instead of a biological one.
  • Even if 16 years old is determined to be the age for adulthood, this age is determined primarily by mental milestones. On the other hand, the basic qualifications for working for the military depend more on physical milestones instead of mental ones. Thus, it would probably make sense to set a minimum age of 17 or 18 years for this instead.

Another idea is that there should be tiers for when adult rights are bestowed. These tiers could be set by age levels and/or by individual merit. At the end of the day, the age of adulthood should be determined based on whatever works best for the society.

3.1. Rights Automatically Bestowed At 16 Years Old

These rights are automatically bestowed at 16 years of age regardless of educational attainment.

  • The right to consent.
  • The right to drive (provided that one completes the required driving test).
  • The right to apply for jobs where a minimum age of 16 years old is most appropriate.

3.2. Rights Bestowed Upon The Completion Of Secondary Education

These rights are bestowed upon the completion of secondary education and being at least 16 years old.

  • The right to leave their parents’ house without being forced to stay there at curfew (if they do this, this is basically “they’re on their own”).
  • The right to relinquish their parents’ parenting responsibilities if they so choose.
  • The right to travel abroad.
  • The right to engage in a contract (aside from jobs, sex work, etc).
  • The right to apply for jobs that require secondary education.
  • The right to marry.
  • The right to have children (if they reasonably meet all the other requirements and can pay the reproduction tax rate)
  • The right to buy/possess firearms and other tools that are reasonable for self-defense.
  • The right to gamble.
  • The right to use alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs.
  • The right to sex work & anything else sexually related.
  • The right to serve in the military (provided that they finished puberty/physical development).
  • The right to die if they choose.

If a society is going to have a democracy, I’m not sure what the ideal voting age should be, but it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to let too many young people vote. Younger people tend to be more leftist, so allowing them to vote would give more power to memes and movements that erode society. Whatever the minimum voting age is, it should be considerably higher than the age of adulthood, e.g. 25 years old.

3.3. Rights Bestowed At 18 Years Old

Anything under ’Rights Bestowed Upon The Completion Of Secondary Education’, even if they haven’t already completed secondary education yet.

3.3.1. Responsibilities Bestowed At 18 Years Old

  • Parents lose parenting rights and responsibilities regarding the person concerned. (the human becomes free from their parent’s supervision, and the parents are not obligated to cover their living needs and expenses anymore)
  • The human can be tried as an adult in a legal trial.
  • Anything under ’Responsibilities Bestowed Upon The Completion Of Secondary Education’, even if they haven’t already completed secondary education yet.

Last Modified: 2023 October 14, 15:21

Author: Zero Contradictions