The Pew Center study confirms some familiar stereotypes: conservatives indeed prefer living large in the country, while liberals value smaller digs in urban settings.
THE RESULTS, collected last year in a national survey, shed a little light on why urban and rural homes tend to be so different. And they also take some heat off builders and developers, who are often accused of upselling clients to unnecesarily large homes. In the light of this data, they'e simply giving the market what it wants.
The fact is that the expectations of conservative buyers are already oriented toward living large. They prefer outdoor activities to museums, driving to walking, being close to family to being around an ethnically diverse community.
Shared Values and Future Research Questions
Not all of the findings draw such a hard line between the wants of liberal and conservatives with regard to how and where they live. Both groups value proximity to family and schools, for example.
And the research does not address environmental concerns, awareness, or willingness to address them. Sure, there are plenty of stereotypes to fall back on: that conservatives place less value on land and ecosystem conservation, for example, or that liberals tend to be more mindful of purchasing impacts and use fewer resources simply by living in smaller homes.
But these are largely untested theories. Before we assume that one lifestyle is more "green" than another, a lot more research is necessary. While it's true that urban life is generally much less resource intensive than auto-dependent life in the country, a great deal depends on a: the behavior and lifestyle of the occupants, and b: the resilience and sustainability of the house/site.
For example,a conservative family living on a rural site that builds a 3,000-sq. ft., net-zero passive house, keeps driving to a minimum, installs some solar panels and grows half its own food is probably going to have a much lighter eco-impact than a liberal couple who build a 1,200-sq. ft. townhouse in the city, eat out five nights a week and travel by plane four times a year.
If you're curious, here's a quick C02 calculator to measure your annual impacts.
In other words, there's no reason to do any finger pointing based on this new Pew data. Instead, it's a reminder for every concerned individual to look realistically at his/her own impact on the world, and take steps to reduce C02 emission--if not for the sake of restaurants and museums, for the sake of children and grandchildren. GB
More on the Pew study HERE.