Multigenerational Households Keep Climbing

05/06/22 11:36AM EDT

Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

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As of March 2021, the share of Americans living in multigenerational households has risen to 18%. The majority of adults living in these households say that their experience has been positive. (Pew Research Center)

NH: We’re back with an update on multigenerational living, and yes, you guessed it: It’s still growing. As of March 2021, the share of Americans living in multigenerational households is now 18%--more than double what it was in 1971.

Back in 2016, Pew estimated that 20% of Americans were living in multigenerational homes, but it has since provided updated estimates for previous years based on data from the Current Population Survey.

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Pew’s latest survey reiterates several points that we’ve discussed in our previous coverage--namely, that most people living in multigenerational households are happy with their arrangement. (See “Americans Are Happy in Their Multigenerational Homes.”)

The share who say the experience has been positive (57%) is more than 3x the share who say it’s been negative (17%). Fully 58% of respondents told Pew that living with adult family members is “convenient” all or most of the time, and 54% said it’s “rewarding.” Only 23% said that it’s “stressful.”

As has been the case in other surveys, financial issues and caregiving are the most common drivers motivating families to live together.

The experiences of those living in multigenerational households vary by income and age. Lower-income earners are more likely to live in multigenerational households than upper-income earners, but the latter are more positive about it.

As we’ve discussed before, this partially reflects stronger stigmas against living at home among lower SES groups. (See “Is the Stigma Against Living at Home Finally Fading?”)

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But as shown here, it probably also reflects the fact that lower-income families are more likely to be providing or receiving care as part of their living arrangement, and are less likely to see it as a temporary situation.

They’re also considerably less likely to say that they have enough space for everyone to live comfortably.

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ABOUT NEIL HOWE

Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.

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