According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the size of the average American house more than doubled between 1950 and 1999. Between 1982 and 2004 alone, new single-family homes grew some 40 percent larger — from 1,690 square feet to 2,366 square feet. In the meantime, the size of the average American household shrank from 3.3 people to 2.6 people. What’s going on?

The answer is, I think, that we Americans have fallen hook, line and sinker for the Big Marketing Lie. For decades we’ve been pummeled by advertising urging us to buy more, more, more — a relentless drumbeat that carefully reinforces the idea that our happiness is directly proportional to the size, cost and number of things we own.

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