- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Great Recession is bringing the generations together - not always willingly.

A new federal report Wednesday found that the number of adults who moved in with family members in “shared households” to save money spiked between 2007 and 2010.

The number of multigenerational households rose 11.4 percent, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Wednesday.

In 2007, adults living with relatives accounted for 17 percent of American households, according to the report, “Sharing a Household: Household Composition and Economic Well-Being: 2007-2010.” Three years later, when the recession had ended, 18.7 percent of households were shared.

While the study found that a lower percentage of shared households were in poverty than single-generation homes, there was a higher poverty rate among individuals living in multigenerational households than others.

“When resources in a household are combined, that seems to alleviate some of the strain,” said Laryssa Mykyta, one of the authors of the report. “Although not necessarily all shared households share resources.”

Rakesh Kochhar, senior researcher at the Pew Center, said that although the recession caused a sharp spike in the number of multigenerational households, that number has been rising since the 1980s because economic factors such as job availability and housing affordability are only some of the reasons.

“That slow pickup [from 1982 to 2007] is due mostly to late marriage and the rising share of the population that is Asian, that is Hispanic, that is culturally different” on living customs, he said.

According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, “The Return of the Multi-Generational Family Household,” Asian families make up one-quarter of multigeneration households, closely followed by black and Hispanic households. Thirteen percent of shared households are white.

Deborah Weinstein, executive director of leading anti-poverty group the Coalition on Human Needs, said she is not surprised people are doubling up on housing. However, she said, this can often be the first step toward homelessness.

“People move from one relative or friend to another until they run out of places to stay,” she said. “People who are fortunate can stay for a longer period of time, but certain numbers of people are not so lucky.”

The Pew study found that 21 percent of adults aged 25 to 34 live in shared households. The only other age groups in which more than 20 percent of the population lived in multigenerational households were adults aged 55 to 64 and adults 85 and older.

Mr. Kochhar said that while such a percentage is expected among the elderly, the large portion of younger people living with family members is more likely about easing financial hardship.

“Especially among the unemployed, it makes a dramatic difference,” he said.