Sharon Jayson. (March 2010). “More Americans live with Multiple Generations of Family.” USA Today
According to a recent Pew Research poll, more Americans than ever before are living in multi-generational households. This is in stark contrast to research conducted on American households from 1940 to 1980 which showed a decline in multi-generational households of more than 50% (25% of people in the Unites States were living in multigenerational households in 1940 compared to only 12% in 1980). This new growth, according to researchers, is a byproduct of various factors – such as momentary high unemployment, mounting numbers of home foreclosures and demographic changes such as increased immigrants in the population and the rising median age of first marriage.
The research shows that approximately 1 out of every 5 Americans aged 15-34 and 1 out of every 4 Americans aged 65 or older are living in households “in which at least two adult generations, or a grandparent and at least one other generation.”
The economy is a massive contributing factor in this. Retirees who once moved into retirement communities can no longer afford to do so due to the loss of capital in retirement funds and the lack of potential for earning it back. Thus they are forced to move in with their adult children to make ends meet.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What effect, if any, do you think that these trends in multi-generational households have on our youth?
- Are multi-generational households a societal problem that social agencies need to focus more attention to, or do you think these statistics will work themselves out over time once the economy rebounds?
- What do you think accounts for the difference between the change multi-generational households from 1940 to 1980 and the numbers as they exist now?
- The current economy in the United States has far-reaching sociological effects on families and where they live.
- Larger numbers of family members living under one roof has the potential for negatively effecting the development of children in these families. It is increasingly important, then, that social agencies, churches and other groups that work with families pay close attention to children in these situations and work to ensure their healthy development amidst often overcrowded and under-resourced homes.
- Family violence also has the potential to increase in cases where many family members are living under one roof. Thus one would hope that as the economy improves more and more people will move out of crowded homes and into more stable living conditions.
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