Assessing overcrowding measures in Australian housing

Centre PersonnelMichael Dockery
External PersonnelMegan Moskos, Linda Isherwood, Mark Harris
Research PartnersUniversity of Adelaide
Project FundingAustralian Housing and Urban Research Institute
Project StatusComplete (completed July 2022)

Project Summary

This project assesses the measurement of overcrowding in Australia and explores the relationships between various household density measures and the wellbeing of occupants.

The research uses quantitative and qualitative methods to assess measures of crowding used within Australia.

Rich panel data and advanced econometric approaches were used to investigate thresholds at which various density measures impact negatively upon occupants’ wellbeing, with a focus on mental health outcomes.

However, quantitative evidence of crowding negatively affecting wellbeing is limited. The most commonly used measure of crowding – the number of extra bedrooms required by the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS) – is not a sufficient indicator of housing disadvantage to use as a basis for targeting assistance.

Findings from qualitative research undertaken with stakeholder representatives and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) households similarly question the adequacy of current measures to accurately measure overcrowding.

Insights into the drivers and impacts of overcrowding, and associated moderating factors and coping strategies helped contextualise issues round the measurement of crowding.