Households Shrink; Houses Don’t

by Tracy R. Walsh

Households by type

Emily Badger notes almost nine out of 10 U.S. dwellings are built for two or more people, even though more than 27 percent of Americans live alone:

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 3.01.16 PMAmerican households have been getting smaller as our houses, conversely, have actually been getting bigger. But the disconnect between those two trends may be felt the most strongly by people who live alone, whether they’re 22-year-old women who aren’t yet married, or 70-year-old retired widows. As more Americans are opting to live alone than ever before, that now seems like an entirely unremarkable choice. But for years we’ve been building houses for that big nuclear family that’s now less common. And housing data released earlier this summer by the Census Bureau, illustrated at right, suggests that the U.S. is now a country where many people live alone in a land of three-bedroom houses.