More adults now share their homes with Millennial children and parents

February 2, 2018

You can go home again. And many American families are embracing that reality—as the nation harks back to a time when several generations lived under one roof. U.S. adults are increasingly sharing a home with other adults with whom they are not romantically involved, based on poll results released by Pew Research Center on January 31.

This arrangement, known as “doubling up” or” shared living,” regained acceptance during the Great Recession (2007-2009) and, nearly a decade later, the trend has picked up once again, according to the researchers.

While the rise in shared living during and immediately after the recession was attributed in large part to the growing number of Millennials who had been forced to move back in with their parents, the longer-term increase has been partially driven by a different phenomenon— parents moving in with their adult children.

In 2017, nearly 79 million adults (31.9% of the adult population) lived in a shared household—that is, a household with at least one “extra adult” who is not the household head, the spouse or the unmarried partner of the head, or an 18- to 24-year-old student.

Those who reside in a shared household include about 25 million adults who own or rent the home. An additional 10 million adults are the spouse or unmarried partner of the head of the household. Another 40 million, or 16% of all adults, are the “extra adult”—not necessarily an immediate relative— in the shared household. This share living in someone else’s household is up from 14% in 1995, Pew reports.

Other examples of extra adults are a sibling living in the home of a brother or sister; or a roommate.

Regardless of their relationship to the household head, young adults are more likely than middle-aged or older adults to live in someone else’s household:

  • Among those younger than 35, 30% were the extra adult in someone else’s household in 2017—up from 26% in 1995.
  • Among 35- to 54-year-olds, 12% were living in someone else’s household, an increase from 9% in 1995.
  • Among 55- to 64-year-olds, 10% were the extra adult, up from 6% in 1995.

The only adult group that isn’t more likely than before to live in another adult’s household is those ages 75 and older (10% in both years).

As a result of this overall trend, the average number of adults per household has not declined since 1995 and, consequently, the number of households per adult has not increased.

Finally, a caveat: The rise in shared living is likely not simply a response to rising housing costs and weak incomes. People of color are much more likely than white adults to be doubled up, mirroring their greater propensity to live in multi-generational households.

Research contact: info@pewresearch.org

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