The number of Americans living in a household with three or more generations increased nearly threefold over the past decade. (Photo: Patrick Jansen/Unsplash).

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

More people live with adult kids, parents, or grandparents today than ten years ago.

The number of Americans living in a household with three or more generations increased nearly threefold over the past decade, according to a recently released study from Generations United, Family Matters: Multigenerational Living is on the Rise and Here to Stay.

These multigenerational households grew by 271 percent from 2011 to 2021, rising from 7 to 26 percent. Now more than one in four Americans ages 18+ are living with multiple age groups, and nearly six in ten say they started or are continuing to live together because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Generations United.

“This increase is incredibly striking, and our survey reveals some of the impetus for this remarkable growth,” says Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. “Families may come together from need, but they are staying together by choice.” Nearly three-quarters of those currently living in a multigenerational household plan to continue doing so long-term.

While once a way of life, the pattern toward multigenerational living shifted some years ago. The percentage of U.S. residents living in a multigenerational household – defined by Pew Research as including two or more adult generations, or including grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25 – declined from 21 percent in 1950 to a low of 12 percent in 1980, according to Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

But from 1980 to today, the number of multigenerational family homes has grown. The category increased sharply during and right after the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. In 2014, 60.6 million Americans – 19 percent of the U.S. population – were part of multigenerational homes, reports Pew Research Center.

Growth is occurring among nearly all U.S. racial groups, including Hispanics. However, Asian and Hispanic people are more likely to live in multigenerational homes. The U.S. is experiencing an increase in racial and ethnic diversity, which contributes to the rise in multigenerational households, writes Pew Research.

The Generations United study cites factors contributing to the decision to move in together include the economy at 66 percent; the need for eldercare and childcare or child education both at 34 percent; job loss, change in job status or underemployment at 30 percent; healthcare costs for one or more family members at 25 percent; cultural and family expectations, and education or retraining expenses all at 23 percent.

Nearly all Americans living in a multigenerational home say their household functions successfully, reports Generations United. The factors contributing to that success fall into three categories: family relationships and interactions, home design, and supports and services.

Families say the benefits of living together include:
• Enhanced bonds or relationships among family members
• Easing the ability to provide needed care for one or more family members
• Improved finances for at least one family member
• Positive impacts on personal mental and/or physical health
• Making it possible for at least one family member to continue school or enroll in job training

Even with the noted benefits, survey respondents say living in one household is not easy, with 75 percent noting it can be stressful.

Methodology
Family Matters: Multigenerational Living is on the Rise and Here to Stay includes findings of a 2021 survey conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Generations United. The survey was conducted among 2,051 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, with 441 of those living in a household with at least three generations.

For more information see:
• “Family Matters: Multigenerational Living is on the Rise and Here to Stay” at gu.org.
• Pew Research Report at pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/05/a-record-64-million-americans-live-in-multigenerational-households

By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, e-mail Tom at tomkalinski33@gmail.com, call 303.441.5620 or visit  boulderco.com.