Why Americans are choosing to live in multigenerational homes
Americans are more than twice as likely to live in multigenerational family households than they were half a century ago, sources say.
The number of people who live in multigenerational households quadrupled between 1971-2021, according to an analysis of census data.
There are a few key reasons for the 59.7 million — and growing — people who reside with older and younger generations, including the financial benefits.
Americans who live in multigenerational households are far less likely to enter poverty than people living in other types of living arrangements. A study by Pew Research Center found that adults with lower incomes were more likely to say living in a multigenerational household helps with the cost of living: “50% say it does at least a little, compared with 36% of middle-income adults and 24% of upper-income adults.”
D’Vera Cohn, one of the study’s authors, told Axios, “We found that living in multigenerational households is apparently a pretty good strategy to stay out of poverty.”
Another factor driving the increase in people living in multigenerational households is the growing Hispanic, Asian and African American populations, which are more likely to share their homes with relatives compared to a white family. That number increases if the families are immigrants, according to the Pew Research study.
For parents with demanding jobs, many have found making the decision to live with their parents again is a great source for child care. Caregiving, whether it be for a child, older adult or adults who need assistance, has proven to be a major cause for multigenerational living.
Ammylou Daludado and her husband decided to have her in-laws move in with their family of three children. Daludado told WBUR that everyone involved benefits greatly from the assistance received from familial care.
Daludado’s multigenerational situation works as a mutual benefit for all involved. She told WBUR her in-laws “were able to live in a home where they weren’t by themselves, and they got to downgrade. And they also, you know, spend time with grandkids. And in essence, for us, we had child care, which, you know, the best child care grandparents you could ask for.”
The relationships that children grow with their grandparents can have strong impacts on them. The American Family Survey, conducted for the Deseret News and Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, explored this relationship in more detail. Christopher Karpowitz, one of the principal investigators on the survey, said that only 6% of grandparents in the survey conducted were the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. Although the statistic is small, the study showed that grandparents play an important role in their grandchildren’s life no matter if they live together or not.
“Many grandparents report that they communicate regularly with their grandchildren, provide child care or meals, attend grandchildren’s events, or just stay home and talk about life together,” he said. “Grandparents have the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of their grandchildren — not just with money, though that can be important, but also by providing emotional support and guidance or simply cheering grandchildren on in their various activities.”
Pew’s report focused on multigenerational families with at least two generations in the household. Young adults ages 18-24 who reside with an older generation are not considered an adult generation, unless they are the key householder with whom an older relative lives, the report says. This could be because the statistic of multigenerational families with only grandchildren and grandparents in the home is so small.
There are many variations of the multigenerational family layout. However, statistics have proven that this way of living’s benefits outweigh its drawbacks. The Pew Research study said that, overall, “57% of adults in multigenerational households said it’s been a very or somewhat positive experience, while 17% said it had been very or somewhat negative.”