Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Overwhelming Evidence V: Good Old Days Are Now

Another post on the theme "The good old days are now." The standard of living for the average American just keeps getting better and better over time. One reason we don't appreciate it, is that the improvements, though persistent and relentless, happen gradually year after year, so we end up taking it for granted. If the average home size increased from 983 sq. ft. to 2,349 sq. ft. overnight, we would treat it as a modern miracle. When it happens 25 sq. ft. per year for a half century, we don't even notice it.

(HT: FancyPlaidPants, via NPR)

7 Comments:

At 12/18/2007 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, your graphic refers to the average size of a new single family home NOT the "average home size."

On our own higher end block in California a nice family moved into a big house with soaring ceilings and a four car garage. Within days the sound of construction could be heard and they've subdivided the house into a three family-Single family house and brought their 8 cars along with them.

Local Realtors tell us that it is quite common for two families to live in a single family house and they do sometimes see three families in a single family house.

We don't live in a second class war zone neighborhood either. We have nearly 1.5 acres fully landscaped into a parklike/resort like setting complete with a large pool, spa, a hundred or so trees, different themed sub-gardens, etc.

Ahh the good old days...

 
At 12/18/2007 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm sure that's the situation everywhere - multiple families living in single family homes.

Or, at least in the minds of commenters like the 1st Anon.

Why does so many people want to believe that, despite ample and obvious evidence that this is the best time to be living in America, that times are really so bad? My parents both grew up in houses with a single bathroom, and they shared bedrooms with their siblings. Me and my siblings had their own rooms. Now, our children have their own rooms, computers, TV's, cellphones and far more toys and gadgets than we had. THAT is more like the standard American family than "3 families in one home" BS.

It amazes me people seem to exist only to nit-pick every post on this blog. Are you so invested in your own misery that you can't see what is right under your nose?

 
At 12/18/2007 2:26 PM, Anonymous sarlevin@umflint.edu said...

I don't think that most people believe times are bad. I think that people in Michigan are struggling in particular and that tends to taint their vision of the general economy. Often when discussing career moves with friends and family I hear that opportunities are great in X city and it's never a Michigan one.

As an extra note, we do have a lot more gadgets and gizmos than past generations but that doesn't mean that our lives are better. We work more and we are more financially extended than before. Many people from older generations pitty our level of attachment to work and money.

 
At 12/18/2007 11:08 PM, Anonymous hoggey said...

America is the richest nation in history and your graphic shows but one example of how our lives are materially better than previous generations. Not only do we live in bigger houses, we have better appliances, central air, air conditioned autos - 2 cars and more per family, cell phones, pc's, flat screen tvs, gps, and most have access to better health care but none of it matters because we are so damn spoiled and ungrateful. We are mad at GB or the GOP or mad at corporations - in fact we have it so good we have to complain becasue it's never good enough for spoiled brats.

 
At 12/19/2007 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to agree with you, Hoggey. There are many measures which indicate that the standard of living has improved dramatically over the last 50 years in the US. The economic opportunities available to young people are phenominal.

With regard to housing, there have also been dramatic improvements in building technology (ie. microlam joists, tilt up concrete walls, prefabricated roofing trusses) that have substantially reduced the amount of time taken to construct a home. The savings on labour/materials have been passed on to the consumer.

A local development in my community has a house factory where houses are assembled in a building and then are placed on a foundation. The entire process reduces lumber wastage, and minimizes dust/debris on the jobsite so that adjacent residents are not negatively impacted by the development.

Just remember...it's one thing getting a thing and it's another vacuuming it. Be careful what you wish for!

 
At 12/19/2007 3:29 AM, Anonymous hoggey said...

great advice Anonymo - i will be careful and in fact, i'm always careful about wishes - try to avoid them cause they usually come in 3's only and i want much more than that. Oh and my standard of living has gone up - i hired a maid. she vacs and lots more - best wishes.

 
At 12/19/2007 11:17 AM, Blogger Colin said...

"As an extra note, we do have a lot more gadgets and gizmos than past generations but that doesn't mean that our lives are better."

No, actually it does. Thanks to cell phones for example it is much easier to coordinate meeting up with friends. It makes my life more efficient and gives me extra free time to enjoy. My ipod gives me the pleasure of listening to music wherever I go. These are great things.

"We work more and we are more financially extended than before. Many people from older generations pitty our level of attachment to work and money."

The older generation usually remarks how easy we have it now. They knew all about work. Maybe it wasn't spent at the office, but think about how time consuming everyday chores were. No dishwasher. No laundry machines. No vacuum cleaners. No microwaves. Maintaining a house and taking care of everyday tasks is easier now than ever before. To the extent it may be more difficult it's a product of our affluence -- that we have so much stuff to take care of.

Perhaps you should read this:

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Labor/wm1596.cfm

 

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