Demographics, Not Economy, are Fueling Multi-Gen Housing

While the recession and other economic factors have led younger people to move back home with their parents, for seniors, the decision to live with relatives is driven largely by demographic shifts, according to a Trulia Trends post.

The share of seniors age 65 and older living with their relatives has grown in the past 20 years, according to data compiled by The Current Population Survey’s American Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

In the years 1994-1998, the share of seniors living with relatives was 6.6%. In 2013, the figure has grown to 7.3%. 

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But the rise in seniors living with relatives is not due to the recession or to changing attitudes, rather, it is because of demographic shifts, writes Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko. 

The share of seniors who are age 80 or older grew from 22% in 1994 to 25% in 2013, Kolko writes.

Demographics can affect which seniors live with their children or other relatives depending on age. 

Older seniors between ages 80-84 and seniors age 85 and older are 10% and 15% more likely to live with relatives than younger seniors aged 65-69 who were just 6% as likely. 

Additionally, 11% of women aged 65 and older live with their relatives, compared to 5% of men in the same age group, which Kolko suggests could be because women live longer. 

There was also no significant difference between more and less expensive housing markets in seniors’ decision to move in with relatives, however, seniors were more likely to live on their own in areas that have a strong age 65 and older population. 

“After adjusting for demographics, seniors were less likely to live with relatives in metros where more of the population is 65 and older—instead, they’re more likely to live on their own,” writes Kolko.

Whether or not seniors are likely to live-in with their relatives can also be a cultural phenomenon, differing between the living habits of American-born and foreign-born elders. 

Among foreign-born seniors, 25% live with relatives, while 6% of American-born seniors do the same. 

Seniors originally from countries like India and Vietnam, where seniors are 47% and 44% likely to live with relatives, respectively, have a greater likelihood of living with relatives than the U.S. and Canada, where seniors are 6% and 5% as likely.

Growing demographic shifts could impact the future of housing, especially for models like multi-genertational living that have, as the name implies, members of varying generations living under one roof.

“As people live longer, and if the share of foreign-born seniors continues to rise, we could see an increasing share of seniors living with relatives—and more demand for homes that can accommodate multi-generational households,” writes Kolko. 

Read the Trulia Trends post

Written by Jason Oliva

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