With an effect that is most pronounced among the millennial generation, a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has found that a growing share of adults from every age bracket are now moving back in with their parents. Overall, the percentage living with their parents from each age bracket has more than doubled between 1980 and 2013.
The new trend is due to multiple factors, with one among them being the shift in the median age of first marriage. Men typically first marry at 28, and women at 26, which is five years later than in 1970. With fewer marriages and the new families associated with them, there is also less of a need for new housing.
Another influence has been a wave of immigration from Asian and Latin American populations, who are more likely to live in multi-generational housing, than are Americans born in the U.S. This does not exclude native-born Americans from the trend, however.
Additionally, with the advent of safety net programs like Social Security and general improvements in health care during the 20th century, there was less of a need to live with multiple generations in one home. Adult children who used to perform caretaking tasks moved into their own homes, and by 1980 only 17% of those aged 65 and older lived in a multi-generational household. That number has since risen to 20% in 2008.
Most Baby Boomers are still in the workforce, and regardless of whether they choose to cohabitate with their children or downsize their homes and continue to live alone, the effects on the housing market will be considerable. Boomers who decide to stay independent would be in competition for housing of younger generations, whereas an increasing trend toward multi-generational housing would lower the demand for housing.
The findings have particular implications for city planners. Most cities are building a flurry of small condo and apartment units that are utterly unsuitable for multi-generational families. As the trend continues to rise it could lead to an exodus from cities, something most state officials are keen to avoid.