A strategy to deal with unaffordable housing?
In the past 20 years, Canada’s house prices have risen twice as fast as income growth. As a result, a growing number of Canadian households are struggling with housing affordability.
At the same time, the share of multigenerational households has also increased by 45%—more than any other family housing scheme. Most of these multigenerational households include grandparents and young children.
The simultaneous rise in house prices and the share of multigenerational households raises the following questions: First, is living with aging parents a strategy that young families use to reduce their housing vulnerability? Second, who benefits most from moving in with grandparents?
U.S study answered these questions and investigated whether living with grandparents could be a solution for unaffordable housing.
Living with grandparents can provide a way for young families to lower their housing costs, reduce their vulnerability to housing, and free up resources for food, medical care and education.
By moving in with grandparents, young families can avoid many of the negative consequences associated with housing vulnerability, including that of children poorer academic results, behavioral problems and poorer health.
Unequal Sharing of Benefits
The benefits of living in multigenerational households are unevenly distributed. We found that children whose mothers had a lower income benefited more from living with their grandparents than children whose mothers had a higher income. Similarly, children who grew up in single-parent families benefited more from living with their grandparents than children who grew up in two-parent families.
Conversely, children with higher-income grandparents benefited more from living with their grandparents. And those who lived with grandmothers benefited more than children who lived alone with their grandfathers. Previous research shows grandmothers typically provide more financial and emotional support to their adult children and grandchildren than grandfathers.
Our findings suggest that multigenerational living is usually a way for grandparents to provide housing assistance and transfer material resources to their adult children. The implication is that young families generally benefit more financially from this housing situation than aging parents.
Low-income grandparents are an exception. Moving in with their adult children allows them to receive financial aid, emotional support and care, and can benefit more from multigenerational living than young families.
Adverse Effects of Multi-Generational Living
However, the benefits of multigenerational living can come at the cost of sufficient space and privacy. These types of housing were more often overcrowded than two-generation households.
Living in crowded homes is associated with poorer health outcomes, poorer relationship quality and more stress for all household members. It can also be a negative influence on school results and increase in behavioral problems in children.
Living with multiple generations can also negatively impact grandparents’ financial well-being. Some older adults can pay for the costs of their adult children and their own. This can put a strain on their finances or cause them to postpone retirement.
Some families and older adults may prefer to live in multi-generational households. For others, however, a shortage of affordable housing can create conditions that: power to move in with their elderly parents.
So what can government do to eliminate the conditions that force some families into multigenerational households?
The Canadian government must increase the housing supply. Rising interest rates can temporarily ease pressure on the housing market by reducing demand. However, it can also exacerbate the housing shortage and affordability crisis in the long run due to cancellations in housing projects.
According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canada needs 3.5 million new homes to become affordable.
The government must also make estimates of unmet housing demand beyond projecting the size of the housing shortage. It must predict quantity and types of homes for which there is an unmet demand and which meet it. For example, the shortage of large housing may be one of the reasons why multigenerational households are at greater risk of living in overcrowded housing.
Overall, our research shows that the housing affordability crisis is having a pervasive impact on Canadian society. It imposes restrictions that alter the structure and composition of Canadian families. It also forces many families to absorb some of the effects of a social problem: the shortage of affordable housing.
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Quote: Multigenerational living: a strategy to deal with unaffordable housing? (2022, August 16) retrieved August 16, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-multigenerational-strategy-cope-unaffordable-housing.html
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