Top 2012 Posts: An Increase in Multigenerational Households


With the end of 2012 approaching, we here at NAHB’s Eye on Housing thought we would take a look at the updates that attracted the most readers over the last year.  In November, we took a look at multigenerational households.


A recent Census report highlights a component of pent-up housing demand – the rise of multigenerational households.

Data from the 2009 – 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) reported that 4.3 million households were multigenerational, or 5.6% of the total of 76.4 million family households with more than one person. This count represents a significant increase in the share of multigenerational households from 3.7% of total family households in 2000 and 4.0% of total family households in 2010.

The ACS defines multigenerational households as families with three or more generations. Some 64.6% of multigenerational households included a householder, a child of the householder and the grandchild of the householder. Households comprised of the householder with a parent (or parent-in-law) of the householder and child of the householder were a 33.7% share of total multigenerational households. Only 1.7% of multigenerational households were comprised of the householder plus a parent (or parent-in-law), child and grandchild of the householder.

The Census report indicates a higher share of such households in the American South and the West, with multigenerational household rates of 6.0% and 6.7% respectively. The shares are 4.2% in the Midwest and 5.5% in the Northeast . This is somewhat consistent with a previous look at households containing non-relatives.

The Census reported a higher share of multigenerational Hispanic, African American and Asian households, with multigenerational family household shares of 10.3%, 9.5% and 9.4% respectively. These shares compare to 3.7% for Non-Hispanic Whites. The Census data suggest expectations that in many areas of the country, the non-majority population will drive future household formations and home purchases, with a particular need to accommodate larger, multigenerational families.

An interesting long-term research question, and one that builders must address in terms of servicing housing demand, is the extent to which these trends represent temporary effects from the Great Recession or long-term changes associated with a changing national population.

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