Mar 24, 2022 - Economy

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans now live in multigenerational households

Percentage of U.S. population in multigenerational households
Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Americans are more than twice as likely to live in multigenerational family households than they were half a century ago.

Why it matters: Financial concerns, caregiving needs, marital trends and demographic shifts are driving changes in how we live.

  • The number of people living in multigenerational households quadrupled from 1971 to 2021, while the share of the population in such an arrangement more than doubled to 18%, according to a Pew Research Center study released Thursday.
  • Population growth among people of color is a big reason for the increase as they are more likely than white Americans to live with extended family, according to Pew, citing census data.
  • "This is not a phenomenon that has peaked," D’Vera Cohn, one of the authors of report, tells Axios.

Be smart: A majority of adults who live in multigenerational households say financial issues are a key reason why.

  • 50% of lower-income adults in such households say the arrangement helps them at least a little financially, compared with 36% of middle-income and 24% of upper-income adults.
  • Young adults moving away from home, postponing marriage or getting jobs later in life is a contributing factor.
  • Caregiving is a “major reason” for many, Pew concluded — whether it's caring for an adult, like an aging parent, or caring for someone else's kids.

What they're saying: "We found that living in multigenerational households is apparently a pretty good strategy to stay out of poverty," Cohn says.

  • 57% of adults in multigenerational households said it's been very or somewhat positive experience, while 17% said it had been very or somewhat negative.

What we’re watching: Whether the strong job market or the effects of inflation alter people’s living arrangements.

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