Under whose roof? Understanding the living arrangements of children in doubled-up households

Hope Harvey, Rachel Dunifon, Natasha Pilkauskas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A growing literature in family demography examines children’s residence in doubled-up (shared) households with extended family members and nonkin. This research has largely overlooked the role of doubling up as a housing strategy, with “hosts” (householders) providing housing support for “guests” living in their home. Yet, understanding children’s experiences in doubled-up households requires attention to host/guest status. Using the American Community Survey and Survey of Income and Program Participation, we identify the prevalence of children doubling up as hosts and guests in different household compositions (multigenerational, extended family, nonkin), show how this varies by demographic characteristics, and examine children’s pat­terns of res­i­dence across these house­hold types. We find large var­i­a­tion by demographic characteristics. More disadvantaged children have higher rates of doubling up as guests than hosts, whereas more advantaged children have higher rates of doubling up as hosts than guests. Additionally, compared with hosts, guests more often use doubling up as a longer-term strategy; a greater share of guests live consistently doubled up over a three-year period, but those who do transition between household types experi­ence more tran­si­tions on aver­age than do hosts. Our find­ings show the impor­tance of attending to both housing status and household composition when studying children living in doubled-up households.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-846
Number of pages26
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors.


  • Family complexity
  • Household instability
  • Housing
  • Multigenerational households
  • Shared households

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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