Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Population Research Discovery Seminars

Beyond the Nuclear Family: Children and Shared Living Arrangements

Natasha Pilkauskas, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

10/12/2018
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Co-Sponsor(s):

WCPC (West Coast Poverty Center)

Children’s living arrangements are increasingly diverse and complex, and a robust body of research has documented links between living arrangements, economic wellbeing, and child outcomes. Despite increasing recognition of the diversity in children’s living arrangements most research continues to focus on the nuclear family. This talk draws on a number of published and papers in progress that focus on shared living arrangements of children in the U.S.–examining the people children live with beyond their nuclear family. I will describe trends in household extension over time and across the child’s life course showing differences by key demographic groups and patterns of coresidence. I find that although shared living arrangements among children have become more common over the last 20 years, this increase is nearly entirely driven by an increase in multigenerational/three-generation family households (grandparent, parent and child). In 1980, 5% of children lived in a multigenerational household and today nearly 10% do likewise. I’ll present results of decomposition analyses that examine the factors that have led to this large increase. By understanding the diverse nature of children’s living arrangements and how these arrangements are changing over time, we can better consider how public policies and programs might better support children’s development.


Natasha Pilkauskas is an assistant professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She received a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University and a PhD in Social Welfare Policy from Columbia University. Her research examines how public policies can improve the lives of low-income people, and in particular children. She studies how families make ends meet, with a focus on the private (or kin/personal/social) safety net, household sharing among families with children, public programs, and employment. Much of her research focuses on early childhood, a time when poverty and instability are known to have long-lasting detrimental effects on children’s health and development, and when social policies have been shown to have some of the strongest impacts on improving children’s life chances. Dr. Pilkauskas’ research has been funded by the Institute for Research on Poverty, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, and the American Education Research Association. Her work has been published in a variety of journals including the Journal of Marriage and Family, Demography, Developmental Psychology, and the American Journal of Public Health. Prior to graduate school she worked as a political pollster and as a policy analyst evaluating various social policy programs.

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