What are Multigenerational Households?
Ann Bristow, 66, bought a two bedroom condo in downtown Seattle in 2004 to share with her 36-year-old daughter and 20-month-old granddaughter. Ms. Bristow was retiring from her job in Indiana at the same time that her daughter became a single mother. The mother and daughter decided to move to Seattle together to be by Ms. Bristow’s other daughter. Ms. Bristow takes care of her granddaughter while her daughter works and goes to school for a second Master’s degree, as her daughter is saving money before settling on her own.
Ms. Bristow and her family are an example of a growing number of multigenerational households, one of many types of domestic compositions in the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, multigenerational family households are defined as households that consist of "three or more generations of parents and their families."1 These types of living situations span all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses.
The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide information on the prevalence of multigenerational households, the reasons for these housing arrangements, and discuss some of the rewards and challenges as well as tips for success and innovative ideas.
Numbers of Multigenerational Households
While multigenerational households represent a small percentage of US living arrangements, the increase in numbers over the last decade indicate that many Americans are reversing the long-term trend of living independently.
According to the 2000 Census, there were 3.9 million multigenerational family households in the United States, representing approximately 4% of all households. In 65% of these households, the grandparent is the householder and lives with their children and their grandchildren. In 33% of the multigenerational households, the grandparent lives in the home of their children (or son- or daughterin-law) along with their children’s children. In 2% of multigenerational households, both grandparents and great-grandparents, as well as children and grandchildren of the grandparents are living in the home.2
Three states have exceeded 5% in the number of multigenerational households – with Hawaii having the largest percent of multigenerational family households at 8.2%, followed by California at 5.6% and Mississippi at 5.2%. North Dakota has the smallest percentage of households made up of multigenerational families with 1.1%.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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