City Futures Research Centre UNSW Built Environment

Living Together: The Rise of Multigenerational Households in Australian Cities

Increasing numbers of Australians are living in households where more than one generation of related adults live together. This is especially the case in our major cities. At the time of the last Census (2011), one in five Australians lived in a multigenerational household; for Sydney, one in four Sydneysiders lived in a multigenerational household.

The aim of the research is to determine the principal drivers of the emergence of multigenerational households in Australian cities and how these affect the day-to-day lives of families.

The research focuses on:

  • Structural changes in Australian society, notably the ageing of the population, changing employment structures, and constrained housing supply.
  • Public policy decisions about the provision of housing and areas of family significance, notably higher education, child care and aged care.
  • Social and cultural views about the family, influenced by shifts in the social and cultural makeup of our cities.

The project will demonstrate the dynamic relationships between the financial, political, demographic, social and cultural factors influencing the nature and extent of multigenerational households.

The project will also provide insights into intergenerational family relationships and individuals’ understandings of family and home; challenge and extend understandings of intergenerational dependency; and provide valuable information to enable policy-makers to better plan for urban development and forecast demand for services and subsidies.

The research draws upon census analysis to verify the extent of multigenerational cohabitation in two Australian cities (Sydney and Brisbane) and includes a survey of multigenerational household members, follow-up diaries and interviews about their decision to live in a multigenerational household and the influence of these drivers on their understandings of identity, family and home.

The project will demonstrate the dynamic relationships between the financial, political, demographic, social and cultural factors influencing the nature and extent of multigenerational households.

The project will also provide insights into intergenerational family relationships and individuals’ understandings of family and home; challenge and extend understandings of intergenerational dependency; and provide valuable information to enable policy-makers to better plan for urban development and forecast demand for services and subsidies.

Publications

Burnley I; Liu E; Easthope H, 2015, 'Geographies of Adult Multigenerational Family Households in Metropolitan Sydney', Geographical Research, 10.1111/1745-5871.12168

Liu EY; Easthope H; Judd B; Burnley I, 2015, 'Housing multigenerational households in Australian cities: Evidence from Sydney and Brisbane at the turn of the twenty-first century', in "Dufty-Jones R; Rogers D" (ed.), Housing in Twenty-First Century Australia: People, Practices and Policies, Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 21-37, http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472431134

Easthope H; Liu EY; Burnley I; Judd B, 2014, 'Changing perceptions of family: A study of multigenerational households in Australia', in Changing perceptions of family: A study of multigenerational households in Australia, The Australian Sociological Association Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, presented at The Australian Sociological Association Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, 25 - 27 November 2014

Liu EY; Easthope H, 2014, 'Companionship, familial relationships and individuality: Sense of (be)longing in multigenerational households', in Companionship, familial relationships and individuality: Sense of (be)longing in multigenerational households, Seminar on local belonging, University College London, presented at Seminar on local belonging, University College London, 17 - 17 July 2014

Liu E; Easthope H; Burnley I; Judd B, 2014, 'Multigenerational households in Australian cities: Evidence from Sydney and Brisbane at the turn of the twenty-first century', in 7th Australasian Housing Researchers' Conference, AHRC 2013: Refereed Proceedings

Liu EY; Easthope H; Burnley I; Judd B, 2014, 'Negotiating multigenerational bonds: Financial and non-financial outcomes of living in multigenerational households in Australia', in Negotiating multigenerational bonds: Financial and non-financial outcomes of living in multigenerational households in Australia, The Australian Sociological Association Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, presented at The Australian Sociological Association Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, 25 - 27 November 2014

Liu EY; Easthope H, 2013, Multigenerational households on the rise, Shelter NSW, Sydney, http://www.shelternsw.org.au/publications/doc_download/345-around-the-house-no-92

Liu EY; Easthope H, 2010, 'Young Australians in multigenerational households: trends, drivers and implications', in Young Australians in multigenerational households: trends, drivers and implications, New Zealand Geographical Society Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand, presented at New Zealand Geographical Society Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand, 05 - 08 July 2010