Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Economic Conditions Causing Social Changes – The Three Generation Home is Booming in Britain

Not Necessarily a Bad Thing - Not Necessarily a Good Thing

The standard model of life is that Mom and Dad raise a family and then the kids move out.  They marry and have their own children, and the old Mom and Dad either live alone in their house, move to a retirement community or if health problems and other problems persist, move to an assisted living facility.  But this model is relatively new, and in Britain (and probably in the U. S. as well) this model is no longer the sole way that people live.

Because of the recession, the high cost of housing and because Britain is a rather compact country, there are now a large number of families where three generations live in the same house.

More than 500,000 households now contain three generations. That figure is expected to reach 556,000 by 2019, according to the Intergenerational Foundation think tank. There has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of multigenerational households in the past decade, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This can, of course either be a great benefit or a disaster.  The benefit is that multi-generational households can be a wonderful living arrangement, with tremendous savings for both the individuals involved and society as a whole.

Clare Gallagher, 25, a publicist, is one such statistic. She swapped her rented flat for her fiancé's grandparents' house in north London. "The main reason was financial," she said. "We are lucky that they have a big house... and the mortgage is already paid. It means we get to save money, our three-year-old son gets to spend much more time with his great-grandparents, while we help them with their bills."

The downside is obvious, if the family members cannot co-exist in close quarters, if the rules and responsibilities for the house cannot be set out and adhered to and if one or more members of the family feels the arrangement is inappropriate the life can be a living hell.

But regardless of whether people like it or not, economic reality has a way of imposing its will and as the populations of the U. S. and Europe age,  and as governments pursue ill advised austerity policies that weaken the economies, this is the what it will be imposing on many people.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to my world, and a wonderful one it is. It takes a modest amount of responsibility and co-operation, but not nearly as much as the original parenting. Ms. Gallagher is correct about the grandchildren thing. Very cool.