From 2005 to 2009, American families took about 3.8 million extended family members in to their home to live with them. Due to financial strain, more and more households now have multiple siblings or family members living under one roof. New census data found that extended relatives now make up 8.2% of family households, up from 6.9% in 2005.
Fueled by the dismal economy and high unemployment, more Americans — friends and families — are doubling up.
From 2005 to 2009, family households added about 3.8 million extended family members, from adult siblings and in-laws to cousins and nephews. Extended family members now make up 8.2% of family households, up from 6.9% in 2005, according to Census data out this week.
"Clearly, a big part of that is the economic recession and housing costs," says Stephanie Coontz, co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-profit research association. "We're seeing a shift away from the 1950s and 1960s mentality against extended families," when "modern" women did not take in aging parents for fear of hurting their marriage.
There are also signs of a shift from family households. For the first time in more than a century, more than half of people aged 25 to 34 have never been married.
The number of people in non-family households — those whose members are not related — grew 4.4% from 2005 to 2009, faster than the 3.4% growth for family households.
"It's a realistic recognition that while a good, healthy nuclear family is a valuable thing to have, it's not the only family form people are going to live in all their lives," Coontz says.