Poor housing quality: Prevalence and health effects

J Prev Interv Community. Oct-Dec 2016;44(4):219-232. doi: 10.1080/10852352.2016.1197714.


Housing is a central component of productive, healthy, and meaningful lives, and a principle social determinant of health and well-being. Surprisingly, though, evidence on the ways that housing influences health in Australia is poorly developed. This stems largely from the fact that the majority of the population are accommodated in good quality housing. The dominance of a "good housing paradigm" means that households living in poor quality and unhealthy housing are doubly disadvantaged-by the quality of their housing and because policy makers in Australia do not acknowledge the health effects of housing. In this article, we examine the relationship between health outcomes and quality of housing. We base our analysis on data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, a panel dataset that is representative across Australia. We find a sizeable, policy-important, and to date under-acknowledged cohort of Australians whose health is influenced by poor-condition dwellings.

Keywords: Australia; HILDA survey; health inequalities; housing; housing quality; panel data analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Housing / standards*
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult