What Matters, the Size of the Fish or the Size of the Pond? Understanding the Positional Nature of Residential Satisfaction
In this presentation, Daniel Kuhlmann, a new assistant professor of community and regional planning, will examine how people determine their satisfaction with their home — is it by comparing their unit to those of their neighbors, or, as other scholars have suggested, do people assess their units primarily based on their own needs and the objective characteristics of their home?
In his research, Kuhlmann set out to investigate the importance of local comparisons in housing assessments by testing the impact that relative unit size has on self-reported residential satisfaction. He used a unique feature in the 1993 American Housing Survey, in which the Census randomly surveyed 680 units and a cluster of approximately 10 of their nearest neighbors. He used these data to test whether unit size relative to the cluster affects reported satisfaction, while controlling for other unit and occupant characteristics. He found evidence that relative position matters. Occupants of comparatively small houses are more likely to express dissatisfaction with their home than people living in units that are large relative to other houses in their neighborhood cluster. His findings contribute to two literatures — in one which analysts examine how people assess the suitability of their housing and a second in which scholars study the phenomena of relative well-being and positional consumption.
Kuhlmann’s talk is part of the Friday Research Seminar Series sponsored by the Institute for Design Research and Outreach. All are welcome to attend this brown-bag session. Cookies will be provided.