New open-access publication on living smaller in the EU published by the EU 1.5° Lifestyles project

Buildings & Cities publication on housing sufficiency
(C) Buildings & Cities
#research paper; publication; journal article; lifestyles; housing; living small

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new peer-reviewed research paper entitled "Living smaller: acceptance, effects and structural factors in the EU", published as part of the EU 1.5° Lifestyles project. This article explores per capita living space-reduction as a strategy for achieving housing sufficiency. The study covers five European Union countries: Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Spain and Sweden, providing a comprehensive look at the challenges and benefits of living smaller.

Title: Living smaller: acceptance, effects and structural factors in the EU
Authors: Matthias Lehner, Jessika Luth Richter, Halliki Kreinin, Pia Mamut, Edina Vadovics, Josefine Henman, Oksana Mont, Doris Fuchs

Key findings

The study highlights an initial reluctance among citizens to voluntarily reduce their living space. Several structural barriers have been identified:

  • Housing market dynamics and the regulatory framework
  • Social inequality
  • Societal norms around the 'ideal home

Improved community amenities can mitigate the disadvantages of reduced private living space, but this requires a clear distribution of rights and responsibilities. Participants reported several positive effects of living in smaller spaces, including more leisure time and closer proximity to essential services (while these benefits are often associated with urbanisation, suggesting that smaller living spaces may be more feasible in urban environments). 

The findings are based on qualitative empirical material gathered through our "thinking labs" with citizens and stakeholders in the five case countries (ES, DE, HU, LV, SE). This approach provided diverse perspectives and experiences on the acceptability and implications of smaller living, which can help policy makers and urban planners seeking to promote sustainable living practices. The study highlights the need for systemic changes in the housing market and societal attitudes to make smaller living a more viable option for EU citizens.

Available open access 

The full article will be featured in the new issue of Buildings & Cities, but is already available online here.

Cite the article as:
Lehner, M., Richter, J. L., Kreinin, H., Mamut, P., Vadovics, E., Henman, J., Mont, O., & Fuchs, D. (2024). Living smaller: acceptance, effects and structural factors in the EU. Buildings and Cities, 5(1), pp. 215–230. DOI: https://doi. org/10.5334/bc.438

This research is part of the EU's 1.5° Lifestyles project.

University of Lund, RIFS Potsdam,