August 11, 2016

A record 60.6 million Americans live in multigenerational households

The number and share of Americans living in multigenerational family households has continued to rise, even though the Great Recession is now in the rear-view mirror. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Multigenerational family living – defined as a household that includes two or more adult generations, or one that includes grandparents and grandchildren – is growing among nearly all U.S. racial groups as well as Hispanics, among all age groups and among both men and women.  The share of the population living in this type of household declined from 21% in 1950 to a low of 12% in 1980. Since then, multigenerational living has rebounded, increasing sharply during and immediately after the Great Recession of 2007-09. 

In 2009, 51.5 million Americans (17% of the population) lived in multigenerational households, according to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. In 2012, 57 million Americans – 18% of the U.S. population – were part of multigenerational homes, according to the last major Pew Research Center analysis of this data.

Growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. population helps explain some of the rise in multigenerational living. The Asian and Hispanic populations overall are growing more rapidly than the white population, and those groups are more likely than whites to live in multigenerational family households. Another growth factor is that foreign-born Americans are more likely than the U.S. born to live with multiple generations of family; Asians and Hispanics are more likely than whites to be immigrants.

Among U.S. Asians, 28% lived in multigenerational family households in 2014, according to census data. Among Hispanics and blacks, the share in 2014 was 25% for each group. Among U.S. whites, 15% lived with multiple generations of family members.

In recent years, young adults have been the age group most likely to live in multigenerational households (previously, it had been older adults). Among 25- to 29-year-olds in 2014, 31% were residents of such households. Among a broader group of young adults, those ages 18 to 34, living with parents surpassed other living arrangements in 2014 for the first time in more than 130 years.  Education levels make a difference, though: Young adults without college degrees now are more likely to live with parents than to be married or cohabiting in their own homes, but those with college degrees are more likely to be living with a spouse or partner in their own homes.

But even among some other age groups, more than a fifth live with multiple generations under one roof, including Americans ages 55 to 64 (23% in 2014) and 65 and older (21%). The rise in multigenerational living among these older Americans is one reason why fewer now live alone than did in 1990.

Among all Americans, women (20% in 2014) are more likely than men (18%) to live with multiple generations under one roof. This pattern has been true for decades, but it is not the case for all age groups. For adults ages 25 to 44, men are more likely than women to live in multigenerational homes (22% vs. 19%, respectively). Among 25- to 29-year-olds in 2014, 34% of men and 29% of women lived in multigenerational households. Among 30- to 34-year-olds, 21% of men and 17% of women did so.

The most common type of multigenerational household – home to 29.7 million Americans in 2014 – consists of two adult generations, such as parents and their adult children. We define adult children as being ages 25 or older, so our multigenerational households do not include most college students who live at home. Three-generation households – for example, grandparents, parents and grandchildren – housed 26.9 million people in 2014. Fewer than a million people lived in households with more than three generations in 2014. Another 3.2 million Americans lived in households consisting of grandparents and grandchildren. (The Census Bureau uses a narrower definition of multigenerational households than we do. The major difference is that the bureau says multigenerational households must include at least three generations, where we require only two. For more details, see this methodology explanation.)

Topics: Generations and Age, Household and Family Structure, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity

  1. Photo of D’Vera Cohn

    is a senior writer/editor focusing on immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Jeffrey S. Passel

    is Senior Demographer at Pew Research Center.

7 Comments

  1. Anonymous4 months ago

    Our multigenerational household is composed of Me and my wife along with her mother. Mom is sick and needs care, we don’t want to send her to a nursing home if we can provide good care at home. If we are unable to provide adequate care in our home we may need to admit her to a medical facility but so far we are able to provide her care at home. I’m a registered nurse and my skills are adequate to provide the level of care she needs. It would be interesting to know how many of the new multi homes are to avoid nursing homes.

  2. Frank Furey4 months ago

    If we were paying a living wage and investing in job creation, we would reduce inequality and provide for more of our citizens to be self sufficient.

  3. Anonymous4 months ago

    how is the relationship between multigenerational household and mobility?
    Which household does exhibit higher mobility patterns than other?

  4. Paul Collins4 months ago

    There is very big reason for this. Look at the high cost of living. For example, in Canada we have disclose.tv/news/real_estate_spe… which led me to make this video youtube.com/watch?v=JMhdees45O8

  5. T Tannin4 months ago

    People have been living in multigenerational househoulds for thousands of years and in many parts of the world (including plenty of European countries) still do. The custom of kicking the kids out at 18 and storing Granny in Assisted Living is a very recent cultural invention. We are just returning to the historical norm.

    1. Anonymous4 months ago

      poorer you mean..

    2. Weizter Kitchens4 months ago

      That is one way to look at it. In more likelihood it is due to economic strain and pressures. Which shows that Americans are feeling the financial strain.