Household crowding

Household crowding increases the risk of infectious diseases spreading (such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia, gastroenteritis, and meningococcal disease), particularly among children [12]. Household crowding also increases the likelihood of adverse psychological responses to living in high-density conditions, such as stress and feelings of lack of privacy [13,14]

Household crowding is measured with census data, by applying the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (based on a formula that includes the number of bedrooms, and the number of occupants and their gender, age, and relationships). Crowding is defined as needing one or more bedrooms; severe household crowding is defined as needing two or more bedrooms.  

The complexity of the relationship between household crowding and negative health and wellbeing outcomes makes it difficult to separate the effects of crowding from other factors. Related factors include the physical condition and type of housing, socioeconomic factors, and risk behaviours such as smoking [14]. Despite these complexities, household crowding remains a useful overall indicator of people’s exposure to poor housing conditions.

This indicator presents the proportion of the population living in a crowded household (needing one or more bedrooms based on the Canadian National Occupancy Standard) for the Canterbury District Health Board region, in 2013.

The figure shows the proportion of those exposed to household crowding for the Canterbury DHB region compared with New Zealand as a whole. In 2013, 6 percent of the Canterbury DHB population and 10 percent of the New Zealand population overall, lived in crowded households.

The figure shows that the distribution of exposure to household crowding is uneven, with much higher levels for Māori, Pacific, and Asian peoples, relative to European and Other. Proportions living in homes defined as crowded in 2013 were 30.4 percent for Pacific peoples, 13.8 percent for Māori, 16.4 percent for Asians, 3.9 percent for European, and 7.8 percent for Other.

Just under 10 percent of children in the Canterbury DHB region aged under 15 years lived in houses defined as crowded in 2013. The proportion is higher for those aged 15 to 24 years, of whom 11.4 percent were exposed to household crowding. By contrast, older people were less likely to be experiencing household crowding (6.2% of those aged 25–49 years, 2.8% of those aged 50–59 years, and just over 1% of the 65+ years age group).

Data Sources

Source: Statistics New Zealand.
Survey/data set: Census of Population and Dwellings. Custom request for Canterbury DHB region.
Source data frequency: Census conducted every 5 years.

View technical notes and data tables for this indicator.

Updated: 09/03/2020