An elderly couple looks at a multigenerational model home in Las Vegas, Nevada. Julie Jacobson/AP

A record 60.6 million Americans are living with grandma and grandpa.

In 2014, more young people were living with their parents than with a romantic partner. And a lot of these millennials’ parents were cohabiting with their own parents.

A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that a record-high number of Americans—60.6 million, to be exact—were living with with grandma and grandpa that year. In terms of share of the U.S. population, these people made up 19 percent in 2014. That’s almost as high as back in 1950, when 21 percent of the population, or 32 million people, lived in such an arrangement.

The rebound in multigenerational households (having two or more adult generations, or grandparents and grandchildren under the same roof) is relatively recent. In 1980, the share of Americans in this living arrangement had declined to just 12 percent. It inched back up in the 1990s, and saw a steep rise post-recession.

Here’s Pew’s chart that shows the U-shaped trajectory of this trend since 1950:

Money—or lack thereof—helps explain why this housing arrangement is back in style. The economic woes of the late-2000s brought millions of young adults boomeranging back to their childhood homes. But the trend also has to do with immigration and diversification of the U.S. population.

Foreign-born households are more likely to be multigenerational than native-born ones. Among immigrants, Asian and Hispanics enjoy the largest shares; and Asians are projected to overtake Hispanics as the fastest growing immigrant group. These two immigrant groups have re-configured America’s demographic composition.

In the overall population (foreign- and U.S.-born included) Asians and Hispanics are growing faster than whites, and both tend to favor multigenerational living arrangements. In 2014, 28 percent of Asian Americans lived in such households, compared to 25 percent of Hispanics and blacks. The white share was significantly smaller at 15 percent:

This trend hasn’t caught housing developers off-guard. The Wall Street Journal called In-law apartments—homes with add-on units for older generations—the “hottest amenity in real estate.” Some vast new multigenerational homes are designed with separate entrances, extra laundry rooms, and second kitchens equipped with wok burners to accommodate the needs of those most likely to use them. Depending on zoning issues, some households can choose to install “granny pods”—small pre-fab backyard cottages outfitted for an older resident, which many families prefer to assisted-living options. Expect more ideas for multigenerational housing in the coming years: Given demographic trends, the need to accommodate a wider range of ages under one roof isn’t going away.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A crowded street outside in Boston
    Life

    Surveillance Cameras Debunk the Bystander Effect

    A new study uses camera footage to track the frequency of bystander intervention in heated incidents in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England.                            

  2. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  3. People wait in line, holding tote bags in the sunshine, outside a job fair.
    Equity

    How 3 Skill Sets Explain U.S. Economic Geography

    Metro areas in the U.S. with higher cognitive and people skills, versus motor skills, perform better economically and are more resilient during downturns.

  4. A man stands next to an electric scooter
    Transportation

    Why Electric Scooters Companies Are Getting Serious About Safety

    Lime has joined rival Bird in establishing a safety advisory board tasked with helping the e-scooter industry shape local regulations—and shake its risky reputation.

  5. A polar-bear cub sits on a rock outcropping as a crowd looks on in the background.
    Design

    What Zoo Design Reveals About Human Attitudes to Nature

    Author Natascha Meuser describes zoo architecture as a “masquerade” that borrows from museums, prisons, and theaters.

×