Let’s talk about people who revolutionized the world: Tutankhamun who ascended the throne at the age of 9 and became a pharaoh, Alexander the Great who, at just 20 years old, claimed the Macedonian throne and killed his rivals before they could challenge his sovereignty, but also Greta Thunberg ,an 18-year-old Swedish environmental activist who is internationally known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change
The more you grow, the closer you are to being an “adult”. Starting from the age of majority, you are granted by law certain rights and responsibilities, you’re legally accountable & responsible for your actions. In more than half of the countries around the world, the age of majority is set to 18 years. Then, you’re eligible to certain activities such as opening a bank account, purchasing a car, renting an apartment,…
But who decides? What made the standard age of majority 18 in most countries?
Scientifically speaking, we know today that the human brain doesn’t finish fully developing until one’s mid-20s and even potentially into the 30s, where puberty of the female brain hits its fullest development about two years before the male’s. On the other hand, scientists have not found a clear indicator that could determine if this person is an adult or not.
Let’ start with an example, the US, where the age of majority was set to 21 years until 1970, and was later lowered to 18. Due to massive improvements in education, young adults were far better “equipped” intellectually, physically and emotionally: therefore, thanks to the emergence of the radio at that time, youth were more informed about civil rights, the environment, sciences,…
Another interesting example would be Yemen, where the age of majority is set to 15, but also the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, where it is at 21 years old.
In these 3 countries, the same “child” would be treated differently just based on the territory he/she landed on.
But the differences are not only between countries: not all states of the US share the same age of majority as some have it set at 21 (Mississippi) and others at 18 (Washington DC). From another perspective, these differences could be observed among girls and boys; in Iran the age of majority is set to 9 for females and 15 for males.
People have long seemed to figure that this was around the age when most humans reach a level of maturity and base knowledge to be fully responsible for themselves and their own actions. That will always be true no matter what age you are if you’re always learning and improving, but a baseline was needed. This is why a number was picked for certain official purposes even if it isn’t perfectly ideal in all cases. But who knows if the age of majority would become even lower (or higher) throughout the following century?