For a number of reasons, more and more Americans are living with extended families in the same household. With the recent economic downturn, an increase in life expectancy, and many younger people delaying marriage or children, extended families have become much more common in recent years than they have been in previous decades. This rise in multigenerational households is also having an impact on the way families approach retirement and estate planning.
About 4.2 million households in the United States were multigenerational at the time of the 2000 census. That equates to about 3.7% of the population living in the home with extended family members. As of 2010, that number had risen to about 5.1 million households, or about 4.4%. That represents a 21% increase over 10 years.
With extended family members come a range of potential benefits. For parents with younger children, having an elderly family member within the household can provide an easy, and cost-effective means of daycare. For elderly family members, living with children, grandchildren, or other people can be a great comfort and a cost-effective way to ensure the elderly person is well taken care of.
Even families who choose not to live in the same household often live near one another. Families living in the same neighborhood or even on the same street can also convey the same benefits that living in the same household can have.
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