Guest Blog: Stephen Burke – Austerity brings us together

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Families faced by the biggest squeeze on their finances are facing some tough choices. So how are we responding to austerity?

Well, the USA is seeing a big growth in multigenerational households – that is homes where three or more generations of the same family are living together.

It seems that we are witnessing one of those back to the future trends. The last decade has seen a return to the 1960s and earlier when extended families really did live in the same home.

A new report, Family Matters, by Generations United in the USA points to the economic downturn since 2007-8 as the key driving factor. People losing jobs or facing unemployment, together with rising costs and wage freezes naturally look at how to make their money stretch further.

But there are lots of other positive benefits of multigenerational households – sharing childcare or eldercare, strengthening family bonds and making the best use of resources.

In the UK there has also been an increase in multigenerational households over the last decade.
What hasn’t happened yet – in the UK or USA – is any real recognition of this trend, least of all by government. What we need is for policy on housing, care and benefits to catch up with multigenerational households and recognise their benefits for families and society.

Stephen Burke

These views do not necessarily represent the views of the ILC Global Alliance.

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