Three-generation households are becoming more common in the United States, nearly double the rate of a generation ago. Behind the dramatic rise may be several factors, including dependable Social Security benefits for grandparents and a continuing trend toward single-parent families
In a study published in the population statistics journal Demography, researchers extrapolated data collected from two long-running surveys conducted by the Census Bureau: the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the American Community Survey.
In 2016, 9.8 percent of all children in the nation lived in homes with parents and grandparents. The figure for 1996 was 5.7 percent. While economic hardship may contribute to the rising rate, researchers found that big economic events like the recession that began in 2008 did not appear to be primary factors. In 2007, 8 percent of children were in three-generation households, so the rate climbed both before and after the recession.
Steady income in the form of Social Security and related government payments may be more at play than other financial influences. “Children and grandchildren may move in with grandparents receiving Social Security” because of the stability, the researchers found.
Other possible factors cited: increased longevity (leading to more opportunity for three-generation homes), changes in housing markets, and overall health among the age groups studied.
The researchers called for further exploration of the trend.