Multigenerational households are growing in the United States, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Foundation. Such households were common in the early twentieth century, then they declined, reaching a relative low point around 1980. They have been rising since then, showing a distinct uptick with the recent recession. In a culture that emphasizes independence, multigenerational households generally expand out of necessity, providing further evidence that times are tough. These trends will affect the retirements of millions of Americans.
Last time we introduced a Census Bureau report that describes some characteristics of the oldest segment of our population—those 90 years old or older (90+). The group is small, mostly women, and mostly widowed. Still, about three-quarters of them live in households. Less than one quarter are institutionalized.
The median income in the group was $14,760 (2008 dollars)—that’s annual, per person, personal income. For men, it was $20,133, and for women, it was $13,580. Social Security has become nearly universal among this group: 92.3% of them receive it, and it is about 48%, or almost half, of the median personal income. The rest comes from investments, public assistance, other retirement income, or other sources.
During the same time, the median annual per person income in the US was about $27,500. The 90+ group has a per person income of about half the overall population.