Random (but not really)

Monday, August 20, 2018

House Size Vs Household Size in the US

I came across an article on how the size of houses has changed over time in the United States. I found it interesting how there was a slow decline until WWII, then the square footage drops for the only time, after which house size skyrockets.

Now this is interesting in and of itself, but I know that my great-grandmother had (IIRC) ten kids, most of whom survived to adulthood (many of whom lived to 90, but that’s another tale), so I was curious as to whether the household size briefly increased once modern medical techniques came to the fore before decreasing.

Interestingly, the data I found didn’t show a bump in the 1900s, just a steady decline. (You can also check the census data.)

So of course, being me, I wanted to see how this data looked.

It turned out to be far more linear than I was expecting, although it did make a nice X.

Now to be clear, we’re looking at household size here, not total population, so that number should include not just children, but parents or grandparents or other extended family members. Which is why I found the steady decline so interesting.

But even more fascinating–and horrifying–is that as households got smaller, the size of the house in which those smaller families live has gotten steadily larger.

Don’t get me wrong–I live in a very small house and there have been many occasions where I desperately wished my kitchen was bigger, or that I had a separate dining room, or that I had another bedroom, or that I had more storage space. But for the most part I like living in a small house.

Which is why I find the increase is house size so bizarre. What on earth do people PUT in these houses? Do people in houses three times as large as my house even see each other over the course of a day?

So that’s one of the things that has been on my mind recently, and now I’ve nattered on about it I can close a bunch of browser tabs.

ADDENDUM the FIRST: The reason there was no household data in 1920 was because apparently the census takers didn’t count large households the same as was done in other years.

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