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The recession is expanding American households. Young people are staying home with mom and dad. Grandparents are moving in, too. And the Pew Research Center says the bad economy is not the only reason there are more homes filled with several generations. NPR News's Jennifer Ludden reports.

JENNIFER LUDDEN: In a roomy townhouse in Northern Virginia, Ray Anderson stacks dinner plates in the dishwasher as his wife pours a cup of coffee and their 23-year-old daughter, Jackie, pours herself a glass of white wine.

Mr. RAY ANDERSON: Okay. I'm running out of space here.

LUDDEN: Jackie just graduated from Penn State last year. Given the horrible job market, she knew she'd end up back with mom and dad. And really, there's no shame in that.

Ms. JACKIE ANDERSON: Most of my friends that are from high school are still around this area, and most of them do live with their parents as well. And I know a good number of them up in Pennsylvania do the same thing.

LUDDEN: It's true the recession has hit young adults especially hard. But Jackie's mother, Chris, says bad economy or no, she always expected her daughter to move back in.

Ms. CHRIS ANDERSON: I thought when she graduated that she would want to build up enough money to get a place of her own, get a car, get all the things that she wanted to live comfortably.

LUDDEN: In fact, it turns out that 1980 was the high point for living on one's own. Since then, the Pew Research Center finds that the number of Americans in multigenerational households has grown by a third, to 16 percent of the population - and young adults like Jackie are leading the way.

Paul Taylor of the Pew Center, sees a new cultural norm. Baby boomers may have come of age protesting just about every conviction their parents held. But, he says, that generation gap has virtually disappeared among their children, the so-called millennial generation.

Mr. PAUL TAYLOR (Pew Research Center): It seems rather admiring of older adults, believes that older adults have values that are better than their own. At some level they're becoming buddies with mom and dad, and they may not find it so unusual to still be living in their childhood bedroom.

LUDDEN: Boomerang Kids aren't the only ones driving the trend of extended family living. Older adults are also slightly more likely to share such households. Demographers say the generation that gave birth to the Baby Boomers has a lot more kids to potentially move in with.

Another big factor: immigrants, a growing share of the population. Lawrence Yun sees this at the National Association of Realtors.

Dr. LAWRENCE YUN (National Association of Realtors): Particularly among the Hispanic families; they are looking for larger-sized homes. And in some of the Asian communities they're just accustomed to living with grandparents, so they're just adopting it here, as well in the U.S.

LUDDEN: Yun says home sales were the same last year as in 2000, even though the U.S. population grew by nearly 30 million. Clearly, he says, people are moving in with each other instead of buying their own homes.

At the Anderson home in North Virginia, Jackie recently found a job and is planning to move out - sometime.

Ms. ANDERSON: I'm kind of playing it by ear. I'd like to do it maybe around the summer, that's a tentative date.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ANDERSON: I dont really know, but just whenever things work out.

LUDDEN: Her dad says she'll have her parents' blessing when she goes, but they like having her around and they're not going to give her the shove.

Jennifer Ludden, NPR News.

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