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Census: Recession Drove Shared Households and Higher Poverty Rates

A new Census Bureau report confirms what every re-feathered nest, caregiving combo, or extended family household knows: Following the recent recession, there were more combined households in 2010 (22 million – 18.7 percent of all households) than there were in 2007 (19.7 million.) And guess what else? Personal poverty rates are higher among the adults who live in these households.

The findings validate my favorite refrain: When finances get tough, families come together.  That includes opening our homes, cleaning out closets and making room for baby … and grandma …  and college graduate … and job-seeker … and those who’ve lost their homes … the list goes on and on.

The report, Sharing a Household: Household Composition and Economic well-Being: 2007-2010, looks at household composition and income data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey.

The most striking to me are the data on poverty rates among shared households;* clearly there are economic drivers causing millions of families to move in together. But the situation may not be what you think: It’s not all about financially secure householders taking in less fortunate family members. In fact, these householders are strapped too – they had higher poverty rates than those not living in shared homes.

Regardless of the reason family members jump into multigenerational living, sharing expenses as well as space can be beneficial. But it doesn’t come without challenges. Here are a few tips to help things run smoothly (and remember to re-visit these issues regularly because circumstances can change rapidly):

Check out my article, When Generations Share Space, for more of my tips for shared households!

*Note: Shared households were defined as those with at least one “additional” adult who is 18 or older, not enrolled in school, not the householder or the householder’s spouse nor cohabitating partner.

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