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By Victoria Stilwell | July 24, 2014

The share of young adults living with parents or other family members in the U.S. continues to grow in the aftermath of the most severe recession in the post- World War II era.

A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1 percent of the population, lived in a multigenerational household in 2012, a report released by the Pew Research Center in Washington showed. Almost one in four 25- to 34-year-olds had such living arrangements, and young men in particular were more likely to reside with their families.

“This is kind of the private safety net — for economically vulnerable individuals, this is the way they pool their resources,” said Richard Fry, a co-author of the report with Jeffrey Passel. Five years into the economic recovery, “it’s still not a particularly vigorous labor market, especially for young adults.”

The share of Americans living with multiple generations has been on the rise since 1980, when it reached a post-World War II low of 12.1 percent. The trend accelerated during the recession and has continued to rise, though more slowly, since then. The number of Americans with such living arrangements in 2012 was double what it was in 1980, according to the report.

The findings highlight the economic struggles young Americans continue to face in the wake of the recession as unemployment for the age group remains elevated above its historical average. Some are also deferring marriage or staying in school longer, which may give them additional cause to live with family, according to the report.

Young Adults

Young adults are more likely than any other cohort to live in multigenerational homes, exceeding even the elderly — who have typically held that distinction, according to the report. Some 23.6 percent of those 25- to 34-years old lived with multiple generations in 2012, compared with 22.7 percent of Americans 85 and older.

Of the young adults in multigenerational homes, 80 percent were residing with their parents. Within the cohort, men are “significantly” more likely than women to be living with multiple generations, which is different from most other age groups.

The rise in multigenerational living also comes as racial and ethnic minorities, who are more likely to reside in such arrangements, make up a growing share of the population.

Some 27.2 percent of Asian Americans lived with multiple generations in 2012, more than any other minority, followed by 24.6 percent of blacks and 24.4 percent of Hispanics. Some 14.3 percent of whites lived in multigenerational homes.

Immigration’s Impact

“Regardless of the economy, as a result of immigration, the proportion of the population that’s non-white is going to rise,” Fry said. “This is why one would continue to expect to see multigenerational living arrangements — they probably haven’t peaked.”

The study also showed that children living with multiple generations are increasingly living in households headed by a grandparent, not a parent. That may be a sign that “economic assets and wherewithal has shifted from young adults toward older adults,” the report said.

The analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and defines multigenerational households as those that are comprised of two generations (parents and adult children), three generations (parents, adult children and grandchildren), skipped generations (grandparents and grandchildren) or more than three generations.

Pew classifies a multigenerational household as those with at least two adult generations. It’s a broader definition than that of the Census Bureau, which identifies it as those with three or more generations. As a result, the center finds that 11.2 percent of all households were multigenerational in 2012, compared with 3.8 percent using the Census interpretation.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

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