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Culture War Roundup for the week of August 14, 2023

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I read it more as that pure headcounts suffer from a lack of comparability if the age distribution is very different. For extreme examples, a family of 5 with 2 parents and 3 kids will use a lot less space than 5 single working age adults that have their own flat each, especially if they live in the same area.

Sure. I suppose I'm coming at it from the employment side. The statistic of interest isn't housing demand per capita. It's housing demand per filled job.

Suppose Bay Area industry has X available jobs. If all adults are single workers, you need X people. But what if each job comes with several nonworkers? In the extreme 50s scenario, you'd have X working men plus X housewives plus 3X children. These households will generate less housing demand than 5 working adults--but more than 1 working adult would on his own.

Obviously, you wouldn't really get 5X the population. The breadwinner supporting a family is not going to work for the same wage as a lone adult. You'd get 5Y, Y < X, as the labor supply curve is further to the left.

Point is, I'm not trying to compare direct headcounts. I think the adult population expands to fill all available jobs. If they're all single, they will demand more housing per capita than a family of five, but less than five breadwinners (and their families). Thus, housing demand per filled job is probably going to be larger when the workers have extra mouths to feed.

But, this whole discussion was over how much the population of California cities had increased by a head count basis, not a bread winner basis. If Californians had more children over the last few decades the housing problem would be worse. But, a California with 40 million people who are on average older and distributed into more households, has a worse housing problem, than one with 40 million people who are on average younger and distributed into fewer households.