4 things to know about multigenerational households

by Peter Thomas Ricci


Multigenerational households – those that include two or more adult generations, or grandparent and grandchildren – are at an all-time high in the U.S., according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Based on census data through 2014, Pew found that 19 percent of U.S. households, or 60.6 million people, lived with multiple generations under one roof. That is up from just 12 percent, or 27.5 million, in 1980.

Such a trend has wide-ranging implications for how real estate agents operate, and below, we have spotlighted four of the most notable trends from Pew’s report.

1. Coming Full Circle – Back in 1950, multigenerational households were quite common, with nearly one in five Americans (or 21 percent) living in such a home. Over the next 30 years, though, that percentage dropped, falling to 12 percent in 1980. Since then, the numbers have crept back up, and show no sign of slowing down.

Here is a chart showing the ascent of multigenerational households:

Year Percent of Population Number (in millions)
1950 21% 32.2
1960 15% 26.8
1970 13% 25.8
1980 12% 27.5
1990 14% 35.4
2000 15% 42.4
2009 17% 51.5
2012 18% 57
2014 19% 60.6

2. Multigenerational Living Across Ethnic Lines – Although multigenerational living is rising across all ethnic groups, it is not equally prominent. For instance, while the percent of the white population living in multi-gen houses has risen from 13 to 15 percent since 2009, that ratio is far below Asian households, where the share rose from 26 to 28 percent, or Hispanic households, where the share rose from 23 to 25 percent; such households, Pew stressed, are more likely to include foreign-born Americans, who are in turn more likely to live in multigenerational homes.

This chart spells out the ethnic differences further:

Year Percent of Population (2009) Percent of Population (2014)
Total 17% 19%
Asian 26% 28%
Black 24% 25%
Hispanic 23% 25%
Other 20% 21%
White 13% 15%

3. The Millennial Factor – The prevailing image of the multigenerational home is one of grandparents living with their adult children, and indeed, 23 percent of Baby Boomers now live in such households. However, Millennials living with their parents have also played a role in the rise of multi-gen homes. According to Pew, 32.1 percent of Millennials now live with their parents; that is the most common living arrangement for Millennials, which has not happened since the 1880s. Additionally, among 25- to 29-year-olds, 31 percent live with their parents.

4. The Gender Divide – Interestingly, though women are more likely to live in multigenerational homes than men, the reverse is true for younger generations. So while 20 percent of all women and 18 percent of all men live in such homes, that contrasts with women and men among 25- to 29-year-olds, where 29 and 34 percent live in multi-gen homes, respectively.

Here is how things break down:

Age Group Men Women
All Americans 18% 20%
25 to 29 34% 29%
30 to 34 21% 17%
25 to 44 22% 19%

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