“There’s no place like home…” Dorothy famously uttered in The Wizard of Oz. That may well be true. But what we mean by “home” has changed markedly in recent years, particularly within advanced, industrial countries. One of the most interesting and promising innovations in housing has been the rise of multigenerational homes.
According to Pew Research Center, the number of people living in multigenerational family households in the United States quadrupled between 1971 and 2021. A record 64 million Americans now live in such dwellings. In Canada, multigenerational homes as the fast-growing household types in recent decades, growing by 50% since 2001. Even the UK, historically one of the most age-segregated countries, is slowly coming on board. Research by the commercial real estate services company CBRE found that 1.8 million UK households contained two or more adult generations in 2020, an increase of 38% in just 10 years.
It’s not hard to understand the appeal of a multi-generational household. For starters, people are living longer than ever before. This, together with the rise of the “ageing in place” movement, means that the demand for senior-friendly housing is increasing. But housing is expensive—particularly for young people and older people need income once they stop working. Not surprisingly, the primary factor driving the rise in multi-generational housing in America is financial need, according to Pew. Their research also shows that poverty levels are lower for Americans living within multigenerational households than outside them.
There are also social and public health benefits to intergenerational living.
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