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Tales of the Great Recession: 57 million now in multi-gen households

U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he steps to the podium to deliver remarks on the economy at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College on July 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California
U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he steps to the podium to deliver remarks on the economy at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College on July 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Discouraged job-seekers, perhaps trying to make ends meet or save money for the future, are showing up in data trends as a PEW report indicates there are now 57 million people in multi-generational households trying to survive.

Writers Richard Fry and Jeffrey S. Passel state in the article at PEWsocialtrends that while historically the nation’s oldest Americans have been the age group most likely to live in multi-generational households, it has changed in recent years. They write that "... younger adults have surpassed older adults in this regard. In 2012, 22.7% of adults ages 85 and older lived in a multi-generational household, just shy of the 23.6% of adults ages 25 to 34 in the same situation."

The Great Recession

The authors further state:

"The Great Recession resulted in a large loss in employment for young adults. But the fact that a larger share of young men than women are now living in multi-generational arrangements does not necessarily imply that the job losses since 2007 have been greater among young men. Studies generally tend to show that, though men lost more jobs in the recession, men have also disproportionately gained jobs during the recovery (Carnevale, Jayasundera, and Cheah, 2012). Rather, it might simply be that young men’s living arrangements are more sensitive to employment fluctuations than young women’s are (Mather, 2011)."

With this "growing tendency" of young adults—both male and female—to live in multi-generational households, Fry and Passel write, it may be seen as "another manifestation of their delayed entry into adulthood." They cite previous Pew Research Center studies which they believe indicates "... young adults are marrying at later ages and staying in school longer. Both of these factors may be contributing to the rising share of young adults living with their parents or other family members."

Delayed

"There have also been well-known changes in the social behaviors of young adults. This generation of young adults is marrying at later ages, so the pool of unmarried young adults—a group much more likely to live with their parents—is expanding," say Fry and Passel. They add this:

"According to the Census Bureau, the median age at first marriage in 2013 is estimated to be 29 for men and almost 27 for women. In 1980, the median age of first marriage for both men and women was between four and five years younger."