Without public debate or fanfare, large numbers of Americans enacted their own anti-poverty program in the depths of the Great Recession: They moved in with relatives. This helped fuel the largest increase in the number of Americans living in multi-generational households in modern history. From 2007 to 2009, the total spiked from 46.5 million to 51.4 million.
Living in a multi-generational household appears to be a financial lifeline for many. Although their adjusted incomes overall are lower, the poverty rate among people in multi-generational households is substantially smaller than for those in other households—11.5% vs. 14.6% in 2009, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.
Moreover, the potential benefits of living in multi-generational households are greatest for the groups that have been most affected by the Great Recession. Among the unemployed, the poverty rate in 2009 was 17.5% for those living in multi-generational households, compared with 30.3% for those living in other households. Members of other economically vulnerable groups—young adults, Hispanics and blacks—who live in multi-generational households also experience sharply lower poverty rates than those in other households.
Read the full report, Fighting Poverty in a Bad Economy, Americans Move in with Relatives, on the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Web site.