- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

The Census Bureau released data today showing that there were 3.9 million multigenerational family households in this country in 2000, nearly 4 percent of all households.

Last year's census marked the first time the government had analyzed multigenerational family households, defined as those consisting of three or more generations of parents and their children living under one roof.

The new data are contained in a Census 2000 brief, titled "Households and Families," which examines how the composition of the nation's households has changed since the 1990 Census.

Release of the data comes two days before Grandparent's Day, which will be celebrated Sunday.

Census officials said the timing was coincidental but fitting, given that in 2.6 million multigenerational family households — or nearly two-thirds of the total — grandparents are the householders, who live with both their children and grandchildren.

In the remaining one-third — or 1.3 million households — where several generations of families live together, grandparents live in the homes of their children, along with their children's children, census data showed.

Tavia Simmons, a family demographer for the Census Bureau and co-author of the study, said the data also turned up another 78,000 multigenerational family households that consisted of four generations.

Such households included both grandparents and great-grandparents and represented 2 percent of the total, Miss Simmons said.

"Multigenerational families are more likely to reside in areas of recent immigration, where new immigrants may live with their relatives," she said, adding:

"They also are more common in areas where housing shortages or high costs may force families to double up their living arrangements or in areas with relatively high rates of out-of-wedlock childbearing, where unwed mothers live with their children in their parents' home."

Miss Simmons said data were obtained from the Census 2000 short form, filled out by most households.

The report did not attempt to identify racial or ethnic groups having the greatest share of multigenerational family households.

But it did identify states with the highest and lowest proportions. The highest was Hawaii, which contains 8.2 percent multigenerational families.

California (5.6 percent) and Mississippi (5.2 percent) were the only other states where the proportions exceeded 5 percent.

North Dakota had the nation's smallest share of multigenerational families, with 1.1 percent.

Other states with fewer than 2 percent of multigenerational families were Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Asked why it took until Census 2000 for the government to try to count families where three or more generations shared a dwelling, Miss Simmons said, "interest has been increasing in the public and academically."

In honor of Grandparent's Day, the Census Bureau also released the following statistics under the heading of "Grandparents as Caregivers."

These data are derived from the Census 2000 Supplemental Survey, a poll of 700,000 households:

• 5.6 million: the number of grandparents whose grandchildren under age 18 lived with them in 2000.

• 2.4 million: the number of grandparents who were responsible for caring for their grandchildren. Of these grandparents, 1.5 million were grandmothers, 840,000 had been responsible for caring for their grandchildren for five or more years, 1.7 million were married, 1.3 million were in the labor force and 442,000 were poor.

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