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Elman, Cheryl & Uhlenberg, Peter (1995). Co-Residence in the Early Twentieth Century: Elderly Women in the United States and their Children. Population Studies, 49(3), 501-517.


A quiet demographic revolution has occurred during the twentieth century in the United States: the decline in intergenerational household sharing. Why were these living arrangements so common for older women early in the century? We examine the characteristics of adult kin who shared intergenerational households in 1910. Two nationally representative samples, of elderly mothers and their co-resident biological adult children were taken from the 1910 Census P.U.S. and linked to test general hypotheses relating to the determination of living arrangements. We find that kin availability influenced co-residence in two ways: by increasing the pool of children available and by facilitating strategic processes of kin selection based on quality of children. As kin availability increased, mothers chose security (especially the retention of headship) and a child's lack of competing obligations.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Population Studies


Elman, Cheryl
Uhlenberg, Peter