Pew's Fighting Poverty in a Bad Economy, Americans Move in With Relatives reports that over 50 million Americans live in multi-generational households.
As the report's title indicates, the Great Recession had a major impact. From 2007 to 2009 the number of Americans living in multi-generational households increased from 46.5 million to 51.4 million.
But as the chart below (from the report) shows, the trend towards an increase in multi-generational households pre-dates the recession and has been moving up for almost 30 years.
There are a number of drivers of this trend. Real (inflation adjusted) housing costs have increased over this period making it harder for people to live on their own. Immigration increased substantially during this period, bringing in people from cultures where multi-generational housing is the norm. Social shifts, in particularly delayed marriages, are also a driver.
But one of the major drivers not often discussed is the rise of two income families. This, coupled with the aging of baby boomers, is leading an increase in multi-generational households for child care or elder care reasons - or for both.
We're forecasting this trend to continue. We also see this as a driver of the New Localism trend, which is the growing interest in local communities.