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

Americans Are Happy in Their Multigenerational Homes - 4 28 2021 10 12 43 AM

The isolation brought on the pandemic convinced many older Americans to move closer to their children--or vice versa. In a recent survey, most adults in multigenerational households said that this arrangement has helped strengthen family relationships. (The Wall Street Journal)

NH: We know that multigenerational living has increased since the start of the pandemic. (See “Multigenerational Homes are Smoking Hot.”)

It’s happening in both directions: Young adults are returning to live with Mom and Dad, and parents and grandparents are moving in with their children. Now here’s a survey showing that those living in these homes are feeling pretty good about it.

Nearly all Americans living in a multigenerational home (98%) say that their household functions successfully. Most respondents also said that living together had strengthened bonds among family members (79%), made it easier to care for the needs or one or more family members (79%), and had “positive impacts” on their physical and mental health (76%).

An equal share said it improved the finances of at least one family member. Fully 72% said they plan to continue this arrangement long term.

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Two-thirds said that economic considerations played a role in their living arrangement. Over half (57%) specifically cited the pandemic as a driving factor.

Other factors that motivated the formation of multigenerational households include the need for eldercare (34%), childcare or child education needs (34%), change in job status or underemployment (30%), and health care costs for one or more family members (25%).

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The survey also offers some additional stats on multigenerational living. According to a January poll, 26% of Americans are living in a household with at least three generations. In 2011, this figure was just 7%. 

The latest number is notably higher than the last estimate of multigenerational households from the Pew Research Center, which was 20% in 2016. It just keeps climbing higher.

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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.