February 19, 2018

The path of multigenerational home sharing

NY Times -After the late 1800s, as two economists pointed out in a landmark 2000 study, most elderly widows lived with one of their children — so common a practice that it developed a nostalgic sheen, enshrined as the way things ought to be.

In 1940, however, that arrangement started crumbling. The proportion of older widows living with children declined from about 60 percent that year to 20 percent by the 1990 census.

Did Americans stop loving their mothers in 1940? No, but their parents began receiving checks from a just-enacted New Deal program called Social Security and no longer had to rely financially on their families.

...A decade or so ago, as demographers began reporting an uptick in shared and multigenerational housing, the trend again looked to be economically driven, this time by the Great Recession.

A Census Bureau report noted that the number of shared households had jumped more than 11 percent between 2007 and 2010. The spike came primarily from younger people — buffeted by unemployment, foreclosures and student debt — moving in with their parents or other relatives.

Multigenerational households, which hit a historic low of 12 percent of American households in 1980, reached 19 percent in 2014, Pew reported.

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