Sharing a living space? You’re not alone. And if you live in the U.S. chances are your housing situation is pretty good in comparison to folks in other countries on the planet.
For example, in the United States the average home size is about 2,400 square feet. And both the average household size and the average family size in our country are right around 3 people.
Compare those figures with Iraq, home of the largest households in the world: in Iraq, an average of almost 8 people share each household. (A household is defined as a social grouping, often a family, that eats together or shares a living space.)
Central America is the region with the largest household size; in many countries in Central America an average of 5 people live together in each house.
And if you thought it was tough to share your kitchen with one or two others, consider that in India an average of more than 2 people occupy each room of the house for 77 percent of the population; in Pakistan 72 percent live in similarly overcrowded conditions, and in Bangladesh 61 percent do so. Living in large groups is connected to social and cultural norms, as well as to lower income levels.
All available data suggests that in 2002 average household size in the world was 3.7 people. In territories with very low fertility rates and a high proportion of elderly people, the average household size was down around 2.
The larger a household, the cheaper it is to live per person because amenities are shared; that’s why lots of us have roommates when we’re young and haven’t had the chance to build up assets. However, when people are living packed so closely together, it can tax scarce resources in that area to the breaking point. Conversely, the freedom and privacy of having small households where not much sharing occurs, as we do in the U.S., comes at a huge environmental cost.
If these demographic comparisons are interesting to you but you don’t love numbers, Worldmapper.org can help you visualize the statistics instead.
They scale the sizes of countries up or down according to where they rank against all other countries for any given demographic variable. So the countries at the top of the list for any statistic blow up like balloons about to pop; countries at the bottom of the list shrink down like dried-out sponges. Check this out! Here is the world, with countries proportionately sized for what percentage of world households are located there.
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