Since 1970 the size of the average home has increased 55 percent (to 2,330 square feet), while the size of the average family has decreased 13 percent...
the new American home is a residential SUV. It's big, gadget-loaded and slightly gaudy. In 2001 about one in eight homes exceeded 3,500 square feet, which was more than triple the average new home in 1950 (983 square feet). We have gone beyond shelter and comfort. A home is now a lifestyle. Buyers want spiral staircases and vaulted ceilings. In one marketing survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 36 percent of buyers under age 35 rated having a "home theater" as important or very important.
Samuelson's point is to scold Americans for being so extravagant. That may or may not be appropriate.
I just wanted to highlight the data for the next time a newspaper goes off on a whine about middle-class squeeze.