I was lucky enough to grow up in a home with both of my parents. Our household had an average number of children (two) and an average number of pets (generally one dog, though that number omits a slew of ill-fated goldfish). But we did not have an average number of adults. In addition to my parents, my grandmother lived with us from the time I was very small until after my sister and I had left for college. All in all, it was a great way to grow up.
Much has been made of the fact that many members of the so-called “Millennial” generation live with their parents, due to the poor economy and other reasons. The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of U.S. seniors over age 65 living with children or other relatives has been on an upward trend since the mid-1990’s. The reason for this growth is not due to the ne’er-do-well young folks mooching off of their parents and grandparents, however. Instead, it has more to do with the fact that the number of U.S. seniors over age 65 who were born in another country has increased from 8% in 1994 to 13% in 2013.
“That is important because foreign-born seniors are four times more likely to live with their children. Around 25% of foreign-born seniors in the U.S. live with relatives, compared with just 6% for U.S.-born seniors.
Whether or not Grandma and Grandpa are going to live with you varies hugely by which country they were born in.
Nearly half of all U.S. seniors born in India (47%) were living with relatives. Vietnam (44%), the Philippines (38%), Mexico (35%) and China (34%) also posted high shares. By contrast, only 5% of Canadian-born seniors live with their kids, below even the 6% share of U.S.-born seniors. German-born seniors in the U.S. were at 6%; England-born, at 7%.”
The article goes on to note that seniors are increasingly more likely to live with relatives in their eighties when compared to, for example, seniors between the ages of 65 and 70.
While multigenerational households are clearly increasing in the United States, they remain far from the norm. I’m confident that not everyone who is reading this blog will immediately pick up the phone and invite their mother-in-law for an extended visit. I’m equally confident, however, that the number of multigenerational households will continue a steady (if modest) increase as American demographics continue to change and evolve.