October 3, 2011

Multi-generational Living During Hard Times

The number of Americans living in multi-generational households shot up from 2007 to 2009, the years of the Great Recession, to a record 51.4 million people. A new report from the Pew Research Center reports on the demographics and economics of these households, and concludes that moving into a multi-generational households appears to “lift people out of poverty.” 

The poverty rate for people living in multi-generational households was 11.5% in 2009. For people living in other types of households, it was 14.6%. The divergence in poverty rates between multi-generational households and other households is even greater for groups most affected by the Great Recession, including the unemployed.

Median household incomes (adjusted and scaled to a household size of three) are lower for multi-generational households overall compared with other households. But among some groups, multi-generational households incomes are higher, especially young adults (ages 25-34), Hispanics, blacks, and foreign-born household heads. These groups have been especially hard hit by the poor economy.

In 2009, 16.7% of the U.S. population lived in a multi-generational household. By age group, the sharpest growth in multi-generational living has been among young adults ages 25 to 34, whose numbers rose 16.8% from 2007 to 2009. Among major racial and ethnic groups, the largest growth was among Hispanics, whose numbers went up 17.6% in that same period.