Eighty-nine percent of U.S. homes now have air conditioning. It’s so natural that we don’t recognize how unusual it is historically. Morgan Housel points out that "only one in 10 American homes had air conditioning in 1960. That rose to 49 percent in 1973." As for the 11percent who don’t have it today, most live in cold climates.
As I wrote in "The Sun Is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not," “Societal changes take place so slowly that we rarely see them unfold on a day-to-day basis. Our culture and lifestyles adapt so quickly to new technology that we soon can’t remember life without the latest innovation. But when we look back over any significant period of time, the scale of change is truly breathtaking.”
Housel’s Motley Fool article listed many other examples of this phenomenon. Here are just a few:
- "According to the Census Bureau, the average new home now has more bathrooms than occupants."
- "In 1900 there was one housing unit for every five Americans. Today, there's one for every three. In 1910 the average home had 1.13 occupants per room. By 1997 it was down to 0.42 occupants per room."
- "Two percent of American homes had electricity in 1900. . . . Even by 1950, close to 30 percent of American homes didn't have electricity. It wasn't until the 1970s that virtually all homes were powered."
- "The average American house or apartment is twice as large as the average house or apartment in Japan, and three times larger than the average home or apartment in Russia."
A recent Number of the Day highlighted the top reason on Housel’s list, "U.S. life expectancy at birth was 39 years in 1800, 49 years in 1900, 68 years in 1950, and 79 years today."
Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of the Rasmussen Media Group. He is the author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System," "In Search of Self-Governance," and "The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt." Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.