Indicator HH.1.e Overcrowding
Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?The impacts of overcrowding on health are both direct and indirect. Most immediately, crowding increases risks for respiratory infections such as tuberculosis and ear infection.a Overcrowded housing has also been associated with increased mortality rates (particularly for women), meningitis, and Helicobacter pylori bacteria which can cause stomach ailments.b Crowded housing conditions also contribute to poor child development and school performance, in part, because overcrowding limits the space and quiet necessary for children to do homework.c,d Overcrowding may act cumulatively with other environmental health stressors. For example, one recent study found that crowding combined with noise significantly increases chronic stress hormones in low-income children.e Finally, overcrowding affects health indirectly by creating conditions conducive to poor sanitation, high environmental noise, and residential fires.
Data was obtained from the American Community Survey (ACS). Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, finished recreation rooms, enclosed porches suitable for year-round use, and lodger’s rooms are included. Excluded are strip or Pullman kitchens, bathrooms, open porches, balconies, halls or foyers, half rooms, utility rooms, unfinished attics or basements, or other unfinished spaces used for storage. A partially divided room is considered a separate room only if there is a partition from floor to ceiling, but not if the partition consists solely of shelves or cabinets.
The total number of households with 1 person or less per room was divided by the total number of occupied households and the margins of error were recalculated using the ACS users handbook. For more information on the margin of error or ACS guidance, please visit: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/guidance_for_data_users/handbooks/
The ACS is a sample survey, and thus, data are estimates rather than counts. Estimates have accompanying margins of error that indicate the span of values that the true value could fall within. Margins of error should be subtracted from and added to the estimate to determine the range of possible values. If the margin of error is too big relative to the value, data are not shown because they are statistically unstable. A coefficient of variation of 30% was used to determine statistical instability.
HUD notes that renters, lower income households, and foreign-born population living in central cities are more likely to live in overcrowded homes. These populations have been noted to be more frequently missed by the Census, and this this data may overestimate the number of households living in uncrowded homes.
- Krieger J, Higgens DL. Housing and Health: Time again for Public Health Action. American Journal of Public Health. 2002;92:758-768.
- Office of Deputy Prime Minister. 2004. The impacts of overcrowding on health and education: A review of the evidence and literature. London. Last accessed online August 30, 2007 from: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/138631
- Ross DP, Roberts P. Income and child well being: A new perspective on the policy debate. Canadian Council for Social Development. Ottawa. 1999.
- Cooper, Merrill. Housing Affordability: A Childrens Issue. Canadian Policy Research Networks Discussion Paper. Ottawa. 2001
- Evans G, Marcynyszyn LA. Environmental Justice, Cumulative Environmental Risk, and Health among Low- and Middle-Income Children in Upstate New York. American Journal of Public Health 2004;94: 1942-1944.