"Public decision processes in the United States are increasingly participatory, requiring awareness of many issues at stake, willingness to attend meetings over lengthy time periods, and understanding of joint decision processes and of technically complex concepts such as environmental risks. High school students in the United States often reach voting age (eighteen years) during their last year of school. Thus they are newly minted adults, with the right to engage in voting and other forms of public decisionmaking. Yet their patterns of preference in matters of public interest remain overlooked in the research literature. This lack of attention seems rooted in an underlying assumption that the perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors of young adults especially regarding public issues are either similar to those of college students or even adults in the general population, or that they will shortly become that way. This assumption bears investigation for several reasons. First, there is the consideration of the size of the young adult subpopulation in the US, which is currently experiencing a "boomlet," with real consequences for voting and other decision outcomes. Second, there is the concern that the opportunity for participation in public decisions is not adequately matched by interest and skill, with possibly detrimental consequences for such decisions. Third, there is research suggesting young adults have attitudes towards personal risk that differ in meaningful ways from those of older adults, with unpredictable consequences for attitudes towards other kinds of risk involved in public decisions."