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Soc Sci Res. 2012 Sep;41(5):1307-19. Epub 2012 May 11.

Doubling up when times are tough: A study of obligations to share a home in response to economic hardship.

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Dept. of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; California Center for Population Research, UCLA, USA.


This study uses a factorial vignette design embedded in an Internet survey to investigate attitudes toward an adult child and parent living together in response to economic hardship. Over half of Americans said the desirability of intergenerational co-residence depends on particularistic aspects of the family, notably the quality of family relationships. Support for co-residence is greatest when the adult child is single rather than partnered. Support is weaker if the adult child is cohabiting rather than married to the partner, although groups with greater exposure to cohabitation make less of a distinction between cohabitation and marriage. Presence of a grandchild does not affect views about co-residence. There is more support for sharing a home when a mother needs a place to live than when the adult child does. Responses to open-ended questions show that individuals invoke both universalistic family obligations and particularistic qualities of family relationships to explain their attitudes.

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