In this paper, using data from the first nationally representative, cross-sectional survey of more than 7000 Vietnamese adolescents, we explore how peers, compared to family, matter to Vietnamese adolescents’ development of their independent identity as an adult. We use future hopes and aspirations as proxies for identity development, arguing that an individual’s development of future hopes and aspirations is a correlate to the emergence of an independent identity. Our analyses show that peers have a positive and consistent influence on adolescents’ hopes to have a happy family, good job, good income, and opportunities to do what they want. Regarding career and economic aspirations, the importance of peer relationships appears to have dropped away. It may be that when youth consider their realistic economic alternatives, the role of peers that was important for identity development in adolescence gives way to pragmatism about the attainment of a career identity.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/edward_cohen/3/