Multi-Generational Households on the Rise in US

Multi-generational households are fast becoming the norm in the US as millennials come back to their parents' nest, according to a study.

Walter Hamilton, writing for The Los Angeles Times, reports that according to the Pew Research Center, a record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population, were living in multi-generational arrangements in 2012. This more than doubles the 28 million people who lived in this sort of configuration in 1980.

This rise is based on the sluggish job market, but there are other factors, as well. Of those between the ages of 25-34, 23.6% are living with their parents, grandparents, or both. That is a rise from 18.7% in 2007, right before the global financial crisis, and from 11% in 1980, according to Pew.

And, for the first time, more young people live in multi-generational arrangements that include family members of 85 and older. Particularly, during the recession, this family model rose tremendously, and has continued to rise at a slower rate.

Men more than women are likely to be a part of this kind of living arrangement. The ratio is 26% : 21%, and the disparity could be because of more sensitive job fluctuations for men than for women, according to Pew.

Some young people who live in these arrangements might be be exhibiting the "failure to launch" syndrome. There are also the millennial patterns of marrying later and staying in school longer.

Other reasons for multi-generational living, according to Pew could be millennial job restlessness, or falling wages for less-educated younger adults. Notably, in 2009 25% of jobless lived at home compared to 16% of those who actually had jobs and lived at home

These facts reported by Pew were based on Census Bureau data. The multi-generational household, as described by the Pew study is a home where parents, children 25 or older live together, or which has three or more generations, or grandparents living with grandchildren.

Many adults in their 30s like their independence, and never planned to move back into their parents' homes. however, reports Carol Morello in an article for The Washington Post, some young people have to move home because of divorce or illness.

Some of their peers cannot understand how they handle being back with their parents, but more and more, says Tasha Hart, who had to move back to her parents' home after a separation from her husband, along with her two children, she hears her friends saying they wish they could do the same.

This generation, unlike the the rise in adults younger than 25, who could not find jobs during the recession and moved back home until thy found work, is different. This is the 25 -34 year-old children whose move home represents a dramatic reversal, resulting in growth of households with three, or sometimes four generations living together.

Richard Fry, an economist who co-authored the Pew report, points to several factors. The nation has experienced a wave of recent immigrants who are more likely than native-born Americans to live in multi-generational homes. According to the report, 10 percent of households headed by someone born in this country are multi-generational, compared with 16 percent of foreign-born households.

Behavioral differences have also played a part in the change. Men are waiting to marry until about 29, women are waiting for marriage until an average of 27. This is 4 or 5 years older than in 1980.

Many people are finding that they enjoy being together with their extended families. Donna Butts, executive director of the advocacy group Generations United says attitudes are changing.

"Previous generations were so much about rebellion and making your own identity," she said. "Now, parents and children have different relationships. They find they're liking each other and like to be together."

Naturally, high-student debt burdens have to be added to the list of "whys". And, another person has weighed in on the changing attitudes toward family. Vice President Joe Biden said something about just that at the Generation Progress's Make Progress National Summit yesterday.

"I learned on my first campaign that parents and grandparents listened more to their children and grandchildren about political issues than you listen to them."


07 21, 2014
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