Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 376–388 | Cite as

The Rise of Three-Generation Households Among Households Headed by Two Parents and Mothers Only in Australia

Original Paper


This study offers knowledge about factors associated with a key type of family change, namely, two- to-three-generation household transformations, which are poorly understood, despite increasing numbers of three-generation households, especially ones headed by females. Using a representative sample of 5,874 Australian children, results showed that the circumstances of children in two-generation households differed greatly by family structure. Thus, before investigating determinants of three-generation household formation, children were first grouped as living in either two-parent or single-mother households. For both groups of children, several factors were found associated with three-generation household formation. In two-parent households, the odds of three-generation household formation decreased with mothers’ ages, fathers’ higher educational attainments, and more children, but increased as children grew older. In single-mother households, the odds of three-generation household formation decreased with mothers’ higher educational attainments, increasing income, and more children, but increased if mothers had never been married and worked more hours. Living in rural areas decreased odds of three-generation household formation for children in both types of households. Overall, grandparents appear to play a relatively more important resource role in three-generation, mother only households than in three-generation, two-parent households.


Grandparents Three-generation households Family change Mother only 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe University at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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