A PROJECTED AUSTRALIAN population of thirty-six million people by 2050 is being touted as a figure to fear. The pressure on food supply, lifestyle, natural resources, transport, housing and urbanisation, the thinking goes, means ‘we’ll all be rooned.’ Yet the raw numbers and past experience suggest that it is not such a problem for the supply of housing or the quality of our cities. If the projected number is reached, it will constitute a 65 per cent increase over forty years. Four decades ago the population was 12.7 million, a growth over the equivalent period of 75 per cent.
In 1970 housing was quite different – blocks of land in the major capitals were twice the size, but houses were half as big as today’s two-storey McMansions, with half as much glass, cars and appliances. This is the 2x2x2x2x2 phenomenon. Forty years ago, however, the average number of occupants in each dwelling was almost twice what it is today, even allowing for a greater diversity of household make-up and an increase in unoccupied holiday homes, which skews the figures.
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