Multigenerational families are those families that contain more than one generation of people living together. In some cases, even those families that have a grandparent living with them are multigenerational families. According to estimates, one in every six American lives in a multigenerational family and that between the years 2007 to 2009, there was a more than ten percent increase in the number of residents of different generations living under one roof (Achen 2011). This trend that was common in the past years is now becoming common either because of the return of an old practice, increase in population, economic issues and job layoffs among other reasons.
Achen (2011) states that these households were common among the Native Americans back in the 1980s. There is a possibility that the trend has made a comeback. The benefits that the families that lived under one roof back in the 1980s derived from this sought of family arrangements could be the exact reasons for the return of this practice. In the past, living under roof strengthened the family ties and pooled resources together to ensure they catered for all the needs of the family. This could be a reason behind the decision of extended members of a family to live under one roof. For example, a family that contains a grandparent, several adults and children will assist the children grow up having a strong family connection. The input by the grandparent in raising the children ensures they grow up upholding the valued family and cultural values. The several adult members will pool their earnings together and ensure they provide for the needs of everyone in the family. Such benefits could be the reason why this old tradition is back.
In the recent years, the Economic crisis in the world has forced several people to move back into their parents homes. This has contributed to increase to this sought of families. With a dwindling Economy, more firms find it difficult to hire new employees. A common method of reducing a company’s expenses happens to be through retrenching some workers. This has lead to two situations; one is where young adults remain in their parents’ homes or move to their grandparents’ homes because they cannot secure paying jobs to enable them move into their own places. The second situation is where those formerly employed lose their jobs and move in with their parents. These two situations will translate to an increase in the number of people living in multigenerational families (Green 2012).
A deteriorating economy has not only led to loss of jobs. Prices of commodities have shot up making it nearly impossible for people to leave some money for rent and housing. This is because; even the housing costs have gone up. Housing companies such as ‘Next Gen’ have come up with a design known as ‘Home within a home’ which is a multigenerational household building design that can accommodate larger extended families than ordinary household buildings(Green 2012). This new housing designs provide quality and affordable shelter for multigenerational families. Since the families will be living under one roof, the cost of the house will not be as exaggerated as when in different houses.
Another possible ground for the increase in the number of people living in multigenerational families could be high rates of divorce and many unmarried people living with their families. There is an increase in marriage disputes and divorce cases on a daily basis. Those divorcing move back into their parents homes together with their children before they can pool resources and start life afresh. In the process, since some probably are jobless, they face financial crisis and circumstances force them to take up the new style of living. Similarly, there is a massive group of young adults who prefer not to marry early. This is either because they are still going to school or they face discouragement from their communities. As a result, they contribute to the increase in number of multigenerational families across the world (Green 2012).
Improved health care has contributed largely to an increase in the average life span of people. Unlike in the past when more people succumbed to ailments today more people live long. This has led to an increase in the older generation. These people need exceptional care and attention. Families have accommodated this group of people in their homes to ensure they get the best care. As a result, more and more families have a grandparent amidst them making them be included in the multigenerational families (Achen 2011).
According to Lawrence (2012), there are three common multigenerational families. They include; householder, parent and child multigenerational home; householder, child and grandchild multigenerational family and finally, householder, parent and grandchild of house holder. In the householder, parent and child family there is the owner of the house, the parent or parent in law of the householder and the child of the householder. This is especially common where the family has accommodated their elderly grandparent. These types of families make up about 64% of multigenerational households in America (Lawrence 2012).
The house-holder, the child, and grandchild family consist of the owner of the house, his or her children and the grand children of the house owner. Such a family occurs in cases of divorce, loss of job making the child or children of the house holder move back in with him or her. This form of the family can also occur where people lose their jobs and move into parents’ home together with their children. Another case scenario likely to lead to such a multigenerational family is where young adults give birth when still in their parents’ homes. This form of family makes about 34% of all the multigenerational families in America, with the highest number in New Jersey, West Virginia and Mississippi (Lawrence 2012).
The third form of family, termed as householder, parent and grandchild, consists of the owner of the house, the parent or parent in law and the grand children of the house holder. They account for approximately 2% of the multigenerational in America and other parts of the world (Lawrence 2012). Such a scenario would occur where one accommodates his or her parents and the children of his or her children. Another possible reason why these families have slightly increased may be the ‘kinship availability’, a program that aims to encourage people to take care of their adult parents who are above the age of sixty-five years (Achen 2011).
In conclusion, Multigenerational families are increasing proportionately to the rise in commodity costs. The reasons why people choose to live in such families cannot be limited to the economy. This is because there are other reasons that have led to the rise of such families.