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Report: Multi-generational living on the rise

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that multi-generational living is on the rise.

Katy Fink-Johnson was raising two boys on her own. Then in 2008, her father died. Rather than take care of two households, she decided to move in with her elderly mom in Englewood, Colorado. "It's a great arrangement for all of us," she said. "We keep her company, and we've helped her stay in her house, which is what she wanted to do."

Arrangements like Fink-Johnson's have grown sharply in the last few years, according to a report out today from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2010, 4.4 percent of U.S. households had three or more generations living under one roof -- up from 3.7 percent in 2000.

In the 2009-2011 American Community Survey, approximately 5.6 percent of family households were multi-generational. Those households include new immigrants living with relatives, as well as unmarried mothers staying with their parents. Multi-generational living may be more common in areas with housing shortages or high costs, according to the report.

Moving in with Mom and Dad -- or Grandma -- can also be a strategy for avoiding poverty, says D'Vera Cohn, a senior writer with the Pew Research Center. "There are in fact lower poverty rates among people living in multi-generational households than among people living in other types of households," she says.

Even as the economy improves, Cohn says multi-generational living may be here to stay. Grown children are taking longer to leave the nest, and many immigrants come from cultures where such arrangements are the norm. As immigrants make up a larger share of the population, Cohn says, the stigma is fading.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.
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