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American homes are growing while family sizes are shrinking

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For most people, where we live is our most important investment. Surprisingly, the basic connection between families and homes has been irrational in the last three generations of American homes. As families get smaller, homes get bigger.

America has grown in these generations, from less than 50 million families to nearly 130 million households. About a million or more new homes are built each year, and despite actively meeting the needs and wants of housing consumers, there is a skewed relationship between family size, home size, and the number of vacant homes in America.

The US Census provides clear data on the difference between shrinking families and growing single-family homes. Family size has shrunk in America—from over four people living in a home before World War II to well under three today. Families are about 40 percent smaller now, but homes have exploded in size. The average home in America was under 1,000 square feet 70 years ago, but is now an average of 2,500 square feet today.