Sixty-six percent of adult respondents said that the current economic climate was a factor in their family becoming a multigenerational household; 21 percent reported that it was the only factor. That’s according to a new poll commissioned by Generations United and conducted by Harris Interactive. Generations United released the survey results in a new report, Family Matters: Multigenerational Families in a Volatile Economy.
According to the survey:
40% reported that job loss, change in job status, or underemployment was a reason their family became a multigenerational household.
20% reported that health care costs prompted them to form a multigenerational household.
14% reported that foreclosure or other housing loss prompted them to form a multigenerational household.
Respondents were also in agreement about the need for more support: 82% said there should be more government programs and policies supportive of multigenerational households and 63% said Social Security plays a vital role in their household’s financial stability.
The number of Americans living in multigenerational households has jumped 10 percent since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. A record 51.4 million individuals of all ages now live in such households.
Larry Minnix, president and CEO of LeadingAge and chair of Generations United’s board, said the survey results shed an important light on the plight of millions of Americans who are struggling financially and without benefit of a strong safety net.
“Right now, much of the talk in Congress and elsewhere revolves around cutting programs and services,” Minnix noted. “We believe this report makes a strong argument for policymakers to closely examine other options and, in fact, strengthen many safety-net programs. Americans are doing everything they can to stay afloat—including moving in with family. We need to meet them at least halfway, with policies that allow for adequate housing options; protect health care and other benefits, especially Social Security, and offer more flexibility for those who provide or need care. Leaders across all sectors need to get on board.”
The report offers recommendations for ways policymakers, employers, and others can help address the needs of multigenerational households. Among the recommendations: exploring innovative housing options, improving supports and services for caregivers; strengthening Social Security and protecting benefits for all generations; improving family leave policies, and supporting enactment of a federal caregiver tax credit.
The report also features testimonials from an array of multigenerational families. Their diversity mirrors recent research showing an upward trend in multigenerational living, since the recession, that has occurred across all races and ethnicities. Asian, Hispanic, and black families, however, are significantly more likely than whites to live in a multigenerational household.
“Multigenerational households have been part of the American make-up since our nation was founded,” said Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. “As an organization that values and engages all generations, we see the rise in multigenerational households as a real benefit in many respects. The positive aspects of multigenerational living were borne out by the survey.”
The report notes that many respondents believe having multiple generations under one roof offers distinct advantages: 72% agreed that their family’s household arrangement improved the financial situation of at least one family member; 82% agreed that their family’s household arrangement has enhanced bonds among family members while 75% agreed that the arrangement had made it easier to provide for the care needs (day care, older adult care, or special medical care) of one or more family members. At the same time, 78% said that the arrangement can contribute to stress among family members.
“With this report, we wanted our policymakers to see all sides of multigenerational living: what is driving the rise in the number of multigenerational households, how family members are coping, and what advantages they derive from having several generations under one roof,” Butts added. “As the report points out, consolidating households doesn’t resolve all the economic issues these families confront. Many have difficulty meeting basic monthly household costs and covering the medical expenses of uninsured family members. And many must live in houses and apartments that are not designed for multigenerational living. These families need policies and programs that can help them achieve a more secure financial footing.”
To download report CLICK HERE.