Help, Help! We're All Getting Poorer!

Or not.  Via Cafe Hayek and the WSJ, the median new home is 40% bigger than just a generation ago.



  1. Mark:

    I totally agree with the idea that we're getting richer, not poorer, but I hope we have better data than this to prove it.

    With the rise of dual-income families, the size of homes we can afford has risen. So, on the basis of time worked out of the home, which has doubled for many families, have they gotten twice as much house for the money? According to the graph above, the answer is no.

  2. Bob Smith:

    Any house, even a small one, has a certain minimum space allocated to kitchens, hallways, and bathrooms. Forty percent more total space may in fact give you nearly twice as much space for some parts of the house. Moreover, while the house has gotten bigger, land use regulation is making land very expensive in many parts of the country, so lots are much smaller. In some cases, like Portland OR where such regulation is expressly intended to maximize development costs, houses are built with a zero lot line. If one is going to suffer a tiny lot, the least you can do is give me a bigger house in compensation.

  3. la petite chou chou:

    Coming from Portland, I feel hopeless toward the housing situation. Is it EVER going to change?

    I have a decent studio for decent rent but it isn't very close in. I can still walk to downtown but it takes about 40 minutes. There's no way I could afford to buy a house here, small house/big lot or big house/small lot. In that sense, I feel like I'm getting poorer. That, and I'm capped out at my job so technically, I AM getting poorer....

  4. rob:

    No, you're right. I didn't want to believe that because no can afford all that floor space that I wasn't getting richer. In my neighborhood, my brother just bought 1100 sq ft for $490,000. He is paying more than $2000 a month on the mortgage alone, he makes $40,000 or about $800 a week. With his wife's income they are just barely making it. School loans, car loans, medical bills, and a new child are straining what WAS enough, more cash percentage wise is being asked from Americans now than at any time before. Did you know that 20% of America's kids under 16 go to bed hungry(check with the CDC)? 55% of Manhattan real estate goes unoccupied for more that 8 months a year? That's were the sales of homes with the sq footage your talking about are going to, to the rich who need to add to their lists of possessions that includes the fools who support them in the hopes of someday joining them or at least enjoying their life style. But because you say so and offer no proof, you must be right.

  5. rob:

    it just occurred to me that the average age of the blogger here may be a big factor, Mark said
    "With the rise of dual-income families, the size of homes we can afford has risen"

    Unless you were very wealthy or not in a very large community in the last 20 years, dual income households are the norm for 90% of new families. I was in high school 20 years ago when the reds were the worst thing on earth, and the lies we were told then were essential to keeping us out of harm's way, but as I got older it became clear that as with all propoganda, not all we are told is true and some of the most common beliefs are based on wishful thinking (like Americans would never allow concentration camps to exist during WW2, they did and we're in stead called internment camps, and the reds called them re-education camps - gulags).

    The idea of an endlessly growing economy is a sad well believed myth, like the notion that only men can do certain jobs, etc., all the stuff that made the world go when I was kid is sadly not just out of date, but was always based on facts that were useful if not true, I guess no one's spoken to a person under 25 and listened to their concerns in a long time. But then that was exactly the complaint in the 60's wasn't it? If the opinion of the older folk then were riddled with inconsistencies and half truths, how did we avoid making the same mistake they did?

  6. John David Galt:

    The average new home may indeed be getting larger, but fewer and fewer people can afford to buy one, even with all the creative lending practices (to put it nicely) that have led to the present temporary price drop. I'll bet that if you graph the average home size times the fraction of the US population who can afford one, the resulting curve goes down, not up, over time, and has been doing so since the 1960s.

    This is not an accident.

    I would like to see libertarians such as yourself spend more time exposing the hypocrisy of the Left on the topic of wealth. For all their talk of helping the poor, America's Left has deliberately and successfully been creating an artificial shortage of housing, especially good (single family) housing, since the late '60s, for what amount to snob reasons.

    What it boils down to is, the Leftist leadership already live in nice houses in quiet neighborhoods, so as they see it, no more houses like that need to be built. We "riff raff" can go live in apartment towers, and while we're at it, give up our cars (the idea of "smart growth" is about this). The real reason the Leftist leaders want this is that it will increase the value of their homes, keep traffic (caused by growth) out of their neighborhoods, and especially will allow them to keep using other people's vacant land as "viewshed" without paying for it.

    The Sierra Club, and to a large extent the environmental movement, were invented as a "front" for this agenda, to make it sound as though the creation and operation of this housing cartel were an unselfish effort to save the Earth rather than what it really is: typical Leftist "gimme-ism".

    The cartel now owns and operates all of America's zoning boards and planning agencies for the above purposes. That's the biggest reason they all need to be broken up. I hope that a future President can put federal antitrust authorities to work doing just that.