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Multigenerational families

Posted by Flux on 

8 May 2024

What we learnt:

Our research indicated that many were part of multigenerational households. 23% had grandmothers living with them at some point in time and 3% aunts. 43% are currently living with their parents. 

“So currently I live with my folks. I find it sustainable, especially with the influx of renting, which I used to rent straight off to school. But yeah, the decision to move back in with my folks helped a lot, especially maintaining my work and study life balance.”  – Gabrielle

“Yeah, so yeah, my parents own the house and I still live with them because it’s just, housing these days is quite expensive. So I’d rather settle down and get a proper job first before I go and spend any money. – And my parents are a resource at the end of the day.”  – Cassidy

What does the research/experts say:

The share of the U.S. population in multigenerational homes has been steadily rising and has more than doubled, from 7% in 1971 to 18% in 2021, according to Pew Research Center. This trend is not entirely new to South Africans, but it has been ramping up among all socioeconomic groups due to cost of living struggles. Tuition, housing, childcare and eldercare are prohibitively expensive for many South Africans and, as such, many are opting for multigenerational living. Furthermore, for many South Africans, taking care of ageing parents forms part of their culture. According to a 2021 study  (46,054 participants living across 237 countries) published in Science Direct, people in individualistic (vs. collectivist) countries reported more loneliness. The emotional benefits of communal living are significant. 

What can businesses and policymakers do about this?

A recommendation for this growing market segment is tailored products and services. Multigenerational travel opportunities are one such example. In February 2024, British multinational low-cost airline EasyJet announced a ‘Grans go free’ deal on holidays within Europe. Under the offer, one grandparent on the trip can travel free of charge. The company hopes the deal would encourage Britons to take a holiday with three generations of their family or more. Insurance companies could offer policies that include adult children and ageing parents. 

Employers should also take heed of this trend. Providing employees with elder care benefits is one of the best ways to support those with ageing parents at home. Doing this will improve employee retention and increase productivity. Flexible working arrangements are one example where employees can take parents to doctor appointments while ensuring they do not fall behind with their work. 

Lawmakers must address the financial constraints that lead to such communal living, especially for young people who want independence from their parents. Policymakers should support such a lifestyle, especially in a high unemployment and income disparity environment. Tax and housing breaks are examples of how lawmakers can offer support. Provide social services that include elderly family members, such as transportation and age-friendly community amenities. Set up community programs that promote intergenerational interactions. Implement legal protections to safeguard the rights and interests of all family members within multigenerational households.  

The data and quotes mentioned above refer to a project that we are in the midst of, in conjunction with Student Village called “The 30/30/30 Project” whereby we collected insights from 30 South Africans, under the age of 30, 30 years into our new democracy.

By Flux Trends 

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Image credit: Federico Giampieri

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