, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 1449-1475

Growing Parental Economic Power in Parent–Adult Child Households: Coresidence and Financial Dependency in the United States, 1960–2010

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Abstract

Research on coresidence between parents and their adult children in the United States has challenged the myth that elders are the primary beneficiaries, instead showing that intergenerationally extended households generally benefit the younger generation more than their parents. Nevertheless, the economic fortunes of those at the older and younger ends of the adult life course have shifted in the second half of the twentieth century, with increasing financial well-being among older adults and greater financial strain among younger adults. This article uses U.S. census and American Community Survey (ACS) data to examine the extent to which changes in generational financial well-being over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have been reflected in the likelihood of coresidence and financial dependency in parent–adult child U.S. households between 1960 and 2010. We find that younger adults have become more financially dependent on their parents and that while older adults have become more financially independent of their adult children, they nevertheless coreside with their needy adult children. We also find that the effect of economic considerations in decisions about coresidence became increasingly salient for younger adults, but decreasingly so for older adults.