New Conceptions of Sufficient Home Size in High-Income Countries: Are We Approaching a Sustainable Consumption Transition?

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Abstract

Housing plays a significant role in impelling demand for natural resources and driving economic growth in high-income countries. Public policies, commercial prerogatives, and other inducements have encouraged construction and occupancy of ever-larger homes and this pattern has persisted in the face of decreasing household size, declining fertility, ageing populations, and increasing complexity of domestic relationships. This situation has created a perverse mismatch between available housing stocks and residential requirements. Additionally, imperatives to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions and to hasten progress on the United Nations 2030 Agenda demand new planning priorities. Building on the sufficiency turn in the field of sustainable consumption, this paper first formulates parameters for estimating an environmentally tenable and globally equitable amount of per person living area. It then highlights five emblematic cases of “space-efficient” housing. While acknowledging that prevalent spatial norms are evolving, the conclusion discusses the profound challenges of achieving a successful sustainable consumption transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-203
Number of pages31
JournalHousing, Theory and Society
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies

Keywords

  • Tiny houses
  • accessory dwelling units
  • co-living
  • co-working
  • micro-apartments
  • smaller living
  • sustainable lifestyles

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