Racial differences in multigenerational living arrangements in 1910

Cheryl Elman, Andrew S. London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We explore racial differences in multigenerational living arrangements in 1910, focusing on trigenerational kin structures. Coresidence across generations represents a public function of the family, and we observe this across different ages or life-course stages through which adults came to be at risk for providing simultaneous household support for multiple generations of kin dependents. Using data from the 1.4 percent 1910 Integrated Public Use Microdata Sample, our comparisons adjust for marital turnover, including widow(er)hood/divorce and remarriage, as rates are known to be historically higher among African Americans in this period. Across subgroups defined by age and sex, we find that African Americans are virtually always as likely as or more likely than European Americans (of both native and foreign parentage) to live as grandparents in trigenerational households. Widow(er)hood/divorce generally increased the likelihood of trigenerational coresidence, while remarriage sometimes increased, sometimes decreased, and sometimes had no association with this living arrangement. Also, we find that the life-course staging of household kin support in 1910 differed across race/generation partly due to different economic and demographic circumstances, suggesting more complexity in kin support than previously considered. We discuss these findings in relation to the histories of African American and European American families as well as their implications for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-322
Number of pages48
JournalSocial Science History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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