Housing and health – the universal impacts
Dr Emma Baker
Dr Laurence Lester
Professor Andrew Beer
Ms Kate Mason
Dr Rebecca Bentley
Housing is a central component of productive, healthy and meaningful lives, and a principle social determinant of broader health and wellbeing. Surprisingly though, evidence on the ways that housing influences health in Australia is poorly developed. The underdevelopment of housing and health knowledge in Australia stems largely from the fact that the majority of the population is accommodated in
relatively good quality housing stock. The dominance of a ‘good housing paradigm’ means that households who live in poor quality and unhealthy housing are doubly disadvantaged – by the quality of their housing, and the fact that in Australia we do not adequately acknowledge health effects of housing.
In this paper we examine the scale, health outcomes and populations most vulnerable to poor quality housing. We base our analysis on data from Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, a panel dataset that is representative across Australia. We find a sizeable, policyimportant, and to date under-acknowledged, cohort of Australians who live in poor condition dwellings. Further, this cohort is shown to have a high prevalence of existing health and socio-economic vulnerability.