Americans are in no celebratory mood this 4th of July. But they should be.

In the United States, for all the legitimate unease with the costs and unpredictability of health insurance, most Americans are spending less on life’s essentials than the parents and grandparents. And they are getting more for what they are spending, whether on food, shelter, clothing, education or entertainment.

In the years just after World War II, the new subdivisions of Long Island’s Levittown were touted as the key to the American dream and the middle class. The size of those homes? 750 square feet, with a living room, two bedrooms, one bathroom and a kitchen with no modern appliances.

Today, the average American home is nearly 3,000 square feet, with an array of equipment that would have been unfathomable mid-century; even in 1973, the average home size was 1000 square feet less than today.