In a seismic societal shift over the past half-century, a Pew Research Center report reveals that the number of Americans embracing multigenerational living has quadrupled. With over 59 million individuals now dwelling in homes where multiple generations coexist, this phenomenon is reshaping the modern living landscape.
From parents and adult children to the “skipped generation” of grandparents and grandchildren, these dynamic households have become much more prevalent.
Multigenerational living: a tapestry of family composition
More recently, Rocket Research delved further into the intricacies of multigenerational living through a comprehensive survey. The findings uncover the most dominant familial roles in these homes: parents and adult children. Notably, respondents often embody multiple roles within this set-up, such as being both an adult child and a sibling. The survey underscores the vital role each member plays in this communal lifestyle. Among those surveyed, 60.9% identified as parents or parental figures, while 35.6% saw themselves as adult children. Meanwhile, a modest 3.5% recognised their primary role as grandparents or grandparental figures.
The essence of multigenerational living is captured by the diversity within these households. With an average of four occupants, these homes bridge an age gap of nearly 40 years between the eldest and youngest members. This set-up often welcomes up to four generations under one roof. Remarkably, 31.7% have spent their entire lives in such arrangements, illustrating that multigenerational living defies generational boundaries.
An inclusive ethos extends to religious beliefs within these homes. Notably, 61.2% of respondents identify as Christian, while 15.9% embrace non-religious viewpoints. Another 11.4% identify with alternative beliefs or choose not to disclose their affiliation. This eclectic spiritual tapestry reflects the inclusive nature of multigenerational living.
The pragmatic blend of economics and emotional bonds
The survey further probed into the driving forces behind this evolving trend. Almost half of multigenerational households (48.8%) find their roots in financial necessity. Home affordability and saving money stand as the chief motivators, voiced by 48.8% of participants. Another 31.2% yearn for increased family time, while 27.9% highlight the significance of providing care for older relatives. Of those swayed by financial concerns, housing costs emerge as the dominant factor. A striking 40.2% attribute their decision to the exorbitant housing market, while 18.6% cite the need for multiple incomes to sustain their homes. Notably, 33.9% find it challenging to save without the support of multiple incomes.
While acknowledging benefits, 56.5% of respondents expressed a preference for solitary living or sharing a home exclusively with immediate family members if given the choice. Privacy concerns, cited by 26.4%, and differences in opinions and beliefs, noted by 19.9%, stand out as primary challenges. To navigate these concerns, 47.6% emphasise the importance of respecting each individual’s personal space.
Generational insights into multigenerational living
Dissecting the opinions within these households, the survey uncovered differences between parental adults and adult children. For parental adults, the allure lies in increased family time, potentially bolstering mental health and intergenerational relationships. Conversely, adult children find solace in shared financial responsibilities (30%), while 13.1% lament their inability to explore diverse opportunities. Strikingly, while parental adults report enhanced mental health, adult children are more likely to voice the opposite sentiment.
[Read more: The case for prioritising multigenerational housing]