The general public survey is based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 6-19, 2011, with a nationally representative sample of 2,048 adults ages 18 and older living in the continental United States, including an oversample of 346 adults ages 18 to 34. A total of 769 interviews were completed with respondents contacted by landline telephone and 1,279 with those contacted on their cellular phone. Data are weighted to produce a final sample that is representative of the general population of adults in the continental United States. Survey interviews were conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International, in English and Spanish. Margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for results based on the total sample and 4.4 percentage points for adults ages 18-34 at the 95% confidence level.

For a more detailed description of the survey methodology, see “Young, Underemployed and Optimistic: Coming of Age, Slowly, in a Tough Economy”.

Data on multi-generational family households comes from Pew Research calculations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Surveys (ACS) in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, provided by the Integrated Public-Use Microdata Series (IPUMS).  The trends on Americans’ living arrangements come from Pew Research calculations of Decennial Census data from 1900 to 2000 also provided by IPUMS.

For this report, multi-generational households include households with:

  • Two generations: parents (or in-laws) and adult children ages 25 and older (or children-in-law); either generation can “head” the household
  • Three generations: parents (or in-laws), adult children (or children-in-law), grandchildren
  • “Skipped” generations: grandparents and grandchildren, without parents
  • More than three generations

For a more detailed description of types of households and the methodology used for the Pew Research analysis of Census data, see “Fighting Poverty in a Tough Economy, Americans Move in with Their Relatives”.