The rise of extended-family households in America

New data shows that more Americans are now living with their families:

Almost 1.2 million of the [Washington D.C.] region’s 6 million residents were living with extended family members and friends last year, a 33?percent rise over the past decade. Nationwide, according to recently released 2010 Census statistics, at least 54 million people are in a similar spot.

The figures represent a significant reversal in American lifestyles after decades in which extended-family households fell into disfavor and the nuclear family flourished in the suburbs.

“We haven’t seen anything like this since the Depression,” said Frances Goldscheider, a Brown University sociologist who has studied families and living arrangements. “Overwhelmingly, it’s the recession’s effect on people’s ability to maintain a house. You have the foreclosures on one hand, and no jobs on the other. That’s a pretty double whammy.”…

Although the faltering economy is a major factor in the newfound togetherness, demographers and sociologists say the recession accelerated a shift that was already underway. Fueling the trend: baby boomers caring for aging parents, and the arrival of millions of Hispanic and Asian immigrants, who are more likely to live among several generations under one roof.

On one hand, the article suggests demographic shifts are responsible for this change: growing numbers of immigrants plus the Baby Boomers getting older. On the other hand, the recession has made it more difficult to set up independent households. I assume there has to be some research out there that separates out these different effects and could predict whether this trend will reverse when the American economy improves.

It would be interesting to ask these family members who are living together several questions:

  1. Is this what you had envisioned as family life?
  2. Is the current situation (living with family) good, bad, neutral, etc.?
  3. Would you like to continue living this way if the economy significantly improves?

And years into the future, how exactly will these family members remember these experiences?

0 thoughts on “The rise of extended-family households in America

  1. Pingback: Multigenerational families increasing in response to economy | Green Heritage News

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