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The Economic Perspective: “Are Households Getting Smaller?”

Mary:  I’m Mary Walden with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program asks if households are getting smaller. Mike, a household is one of our key social measures.  A households consists simply of people living under the same roof in a dwelling unit.  They can be related or unrelated.  Have households been changing in an important way in recent years?


Mike:  Summary Answer

  • Indeed they have – they have been getting smaller
  • In the 1950s there were almost 3.5 individuals per household
  • Today it’s 2.5 – a drop of 30%
  • Many reasons – smaller families, more single person households, fewer extended families, more divorce, and individuals staying in school longer
  • But in recent years the pace of the drop has slowed
  • As housing becomes more expensive, more people are pooling their money to share a dwelling unit
  • Also, with more older parents living longer, there’s been a small revival of extended families
  • But unlikely to go back t the 1950s numbers
  • I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.