This Land is My Land: Establishing the Historical Link between Housing and Family Status within the Middle Class Life Course in the USA, 1900-2000

Nathanael Lauster, University of British Columbia

I argue that territoriality, as a set of strategies for demarcating and controlling land, plays a key role within the middle class life course. In particular, housing strategies provide a distinct set of advantages to middle class families, but collectively, they also serve to establish orderly progression along the middle class life course. Historically, family formation within the middle class life course became dependent upon access to proper housing. I examine the association between family status and housing situation from 1900-2000 using the IPUMS census records. Data (becoming available at different times), includes ownership, costs, detachment of structure, rooms per person, and rooms per child. I attempt to separate out associations between housing and family status for the middle class from those for other groups. Preliminary findings indicate strong associations. Changes in access to housing over time strongly predict changes in nuptiality and fertility, with intriguing implications for future research.

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Presented in Session 70: History of the Life Course and Family Transitions