The Multi-Generational Home

Discussion
Aug 23, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


It is becoming increasingly common to find households in the U.S. where grandparents are caring for grandchildren or where three generations -grandparent(s), parent(s) and children – are living under one roof.


According to a report from the United States Census Bureau, the number of households with three generations in residence grew by 38 percent from three million in 1990 to 4.2 million in 2000. Approximately four percent of households in the U.S. are multigenerational.


Many in this situation are similar to Jessica Lawrence, a mother of two profiled in a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor. Ms. Lawrence found she couldn’t make it on her own with the pay she earned from her retail job so she moved herself and her kids in with her parents.


“I put it off to the point where I couldn’t keep going anymore,” Ms. Lawrence said.


A grandparent, according to the Census Bureau, heads nearly two out of every three multi-generational households.


Moderator’s Comment: Will we continue to see multi-generational homes grow? What challenges and/or opportunities does this represent for retailers as
both merchants and employers?


The other third of households, those headed by children, are expected to continue growing, as well. The trend of child as care-giver for elderly parents
is well documented.

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "The Multi-Generational Home"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Herb Sorensen
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

For us, it is a little more complicated with “grandma” (my wife) caring for several grandkids several days a week, and having great grand-dad living on the premises. This latter fact seriously impacts shopping for groceries, because he does his own, but my wife has to take him to the store. Being there, it only makes sense for her to do her own shopping at the same time.

Great grand-dad doesn’t do well in a large supermarket. He needs a smaller, simpler layout store. The one where he has shopped for several years recently closed, and it has been a real challenge to find a suitable substitute within an easy drive. Lots of big, beautiful supermarkets nearby, but none that suit him. Oh well!

Andreas Moppin
Guest
Andreas Moppin
15 years 6 months ago

The shift towards multi-generational households is almost surely linked to the shift in American demographics. As the Hispanic and Asian populations increase, 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants will typically live in a multi-generational home. This is not the normal Anglo-American custom, but the demographic change is probably paying a part in explaining this trend.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
15 years 6 months ago

Multi-generational homes will continue to grow as people live much longer and as the imbalances in sector wealth increase. Retailers will have the challenge of appealing to the personal interests of multi-tier consumers living in the same physical space. And with everything else that will be going on in the marketplace, this will make retailing even more interesting.

Robert Antall
Guest
Robert Antall
15 years 6 months ago

We have many strong forces driving this trend: immigration, single parents, unemployment, the cost of housing in many parts of the country, the gap between the haves and the have-nots, lack of wage increases, spiraling health care and energy costs. It is inevitable that these multi-generational living arrangements will continue to grow.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 6 months ago

There are several angles to this discussion. The obvious one is the impact on “nest building” purchases. As more people share the same quarters, there is less need for big item purchases like appliances and furniture. The good news is that, even though a single income may not be sufficient for someone to live on their own, when they begin sharing expenses, their personal discretionary income may actually exceed what would have normally been available. Without the need to build their own nest, the young single market can afford cars, video, clothing, and other technology devices that might have been unaffordable if they were living on their own. This doesn’t help the over burdened parent who thought their responsibilities were going to end with the college tuition, but it does help the retailers who cater to the young adults.

Jerry Tutunjian
Guest
Jerry Tutunjian
15 years 6 months ago

I would like to know how much of this trend is due to economic conditions and how it owes to the increase in the “ethnic” population. For example, Mexicans, who usually have strong family ties, would be more likely to reside in a multi-generational household than the average United States resident. I believe the same holds true for immigrants from the Far East and from India-Pakistan.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 6 months ago

Hey, this is nothing new. This has been the norm for the entire world for the last million years. The US and Western Europe got a little off track during the industrial revolution. During the period immediately following WWII, a major population shift took place in the US as veterans married and moved to areas of higher opportunity. All of those are now grandparents (age wise) or dead. Extended families have been established in new places and, once again, multiple generations occupy the same abode. This is normal – what we have seen for the last 60 years is abnormal. Furthermore, with the cost of living being what it is and retirement being only a wish for many, the efficiency of multi-generational living and the support it offers may be the salvation of much of our population.

With regard to marketing, people will go where they are most comfortable. Try and make everyone comfortable.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 6 months ago
As the proportion of elderly Americans grows, the number of people taking care of elderly relatives is mushrooming. Many of these caregivers are in retailing. Many of the caregivers would gain from counseling and respite care. Long term care insurance is a growth business, and it often pays for home care, not just assisted living and nursing homes. Investors Savings Bank in New Jersey pays for long term care insurance for its executives and their spouses. Someday, this benefit may not be so unusual. Also contributing to the multi-generation family phenomenon: increased difficulty of paying for college. The average college student graduates in 5 years, not 4, and for many the reason for the delay is financial. Employers with tuition assistance programs (and those who employ co-op students) have an edge for recruiting and retention. The sharp rise in housing prices, if it continues, will also make it harder for young adults to strike out on their own. If interest rates rise sharply, retailers with credit unions will have an edge, since their employees may… Read more »
Marilyn Raymond
Guest
Marilyn Raymond
15 years 6 months ago

Much of our research suggests that each generation still wants ‘their’ favorites, whether it is their own favorite flavor of ice cream or a favorite meal/snack. This means the demand for more single or two-serving packaging will continue. Interestingly, very little of the first generation behaviors and preferences are being absorbed by the third generation kids – even in these households.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 6 months ago
Challenges and opportunities? Separate meals and mealtimes will increase along with demand for convenience. Living under the same roof sadly doesn’t incline people towards shared mealtimes although certainly the opportunity is there. There are more opportunities for bulk buying as well, particularly of packaged foods and non-food products. The trend will definitely continue as the costs of both care for the elderly and for young children continue to escalate. Having them live together and look after one another, as well as having the middle generation looking after those both older and younger, is economically the option that people will have to choose whether they like it or not. In employment terms, it strikes me that looking at an increasingly part-time work force will be inevitable. Whether it be that middle generation again trying to fit both work and care into a 24 hour day or older people choosing to work part time to get out of the house and remain independent, I think a culture of long working hours is likely to become less prevalent.… Read more »
Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
15 years 6 months ago
What it does for the retailers is bring more confusion and the need for proper research and marketing vehicles. Retailers, across all categories of products and services, have such issues as: 1) defining who does the main purchasing and when; 2) who do you communicate with, advertise to, and/or e-mail your selling message to; and 3) are there one two or three people in the household that buy in the same category? In our grocery and meals business, do we assume: 1) family sit-down meals are back; 2) the grandkids, of teen age level, have jobs and meaningful discretionary dollars to spend for food, clothing, etc.; 3) grandparents are of from the wealthiest generation, Baby Boomers, and are willing to absorb the clothing, food, car expense, etc. of their offspring and grandkids? It all impacts on segmenting the target audience even more, and knowing the issues, needs, and wants. We do know teens, and the X and Y generation don’t read rotos, food ads and spend more on ‘out of home foods.’ So the conventional… Read more »
Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
15 years 5 months ago

Presently, our U.S. population is made up of over 30% multi-national, ethnic groups. The U.S. Census Bureau states, by 2054, the population of US will be over 50% multi-national persons.

So, our children, and their children will see, if not take part in, households representing the 2054 population.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

What do you think is the likelihood that, at some point, you will find yourself living in a multi-generational household?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...