The Return of the Multi-Generational Family Household


This Pew Research Center report summarizes changes in family living situations over time, noting the rise in multi-generational households and discussing living trends and experiences among older adults.

Based on U.S. Census Bureau data and in-house survey results, researchers found that 49 million Americans in 2008 lived in households with at least two adult generations or a grandparent and another generation. Ten years earlier, this number was just 28 million.

The reasons for the increase include demographic and cultural changes and, more recently, high unemployment rates and home foreclosures due to the recession. Hispanics, blacks and Asians were more likely than whites to live in multi-generational homes, although numbers increased for all four racial/ethnic groups.

The rate of adults age 65 and older living alone increased from 5.9 percent in 1900 to 28.8 percent in 1990, but declined to 27 percent in 1998. Older women were found to be more likely than older men to live alone.

Researchers found that older adults living alone were less healthy and felt more sadness and depression than their counterparts living with others. Those living with others were more likely to drive a car and talk with family and friends.

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