Multigenerational families and food insecurity

James P. Ziliak, Craig Gundersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The prevalence of multigenerational families is on the rise in the United States, as is food insecurity. We estimate the association of resident grandchildren on transitions in food insecurity using longitudinally linked two-year panels of the Current Population Survey from 2001 to 2010. We find that rates of food insecurity in families with a grandchild present are at least twice as high in a typical year compared with families without a resident grandchild, and the extent of very low food security increased substantially faster among these households over the past decade. The rise in food insecurity during and after the Great Recession is due to both increased entry into food insecurity and decreased exit out of food insecurity. A similar trend accounts for the rise in multigenerational households during the recession - grandchildren were more likely to move in with their grandparents, and once there, were less likely to move out. Our transition models show that whether grandchildren remain, or in periods of transition, multigenerational families are at heightened risk of entering food insecurity and remaining in this state. However, the entry of a grandchild may not always be a negative for the family's food security, nor the exit of the child a positive. Entrance of a child seems to buffer the family from extreme forms of food insecurity while exit exposes the family to risk of deeper food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1166
Number of pages20
JournalSouthern Economic Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the Southern Economic Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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