30 July 2008

Living Space

Here's a thought for all you Soviet-way-of-life Buffs. Did you know that (at least in Latvia) a person's living-space allowance was 9 square meters? So a family of, say, 5 would get 45 square meters. That's equivalent to about 484 square feet, or a room 22 feet by 22 feet.

Crowded homes in which children have little privacy and control over their experience pose developmental and behavioral risks, including decreased well-being, poor academic performance, social withdrawal, and aggressiveness. Crammed into a small apartment with too many other people, perhaps able only to claim a drawer or two and a portion of a closet, a small child can learn to see the world as an overwhelming place in which he or she has little influence. At home, this child may react by turning inward for relief, becoming secretive and avoidant.
What does that overcrowding do for all the people who grew up in that environment? Can you picture an entire culture whose elders are shaped by this sort of overcrowding?

Gallagher, Winifred. House Thinking: A Room-by-room Look at How We Live. New York: Harper, 2006. Page 186.

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