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A household consists of one or more people who live in the same dwelling and share meals. It may also consist of a single family or another group of people. [1] A dwelling is considered[ by whom? ] to contain multiple households if meals or living spaces are not shared. The household is the basic unit of analysis in many social, microeconomic and government models, and is important to economics and inheritance. [2]


Household models include families, blended families, shared housing, group homes, boarding houses, houses of multiple occupancy (UK), and single room occupancy (US). In feudal societies, the Royal Household and medieval households of the wealthy included servants and other retainers.

Government definitions

For statistical purposes in the United Kingdom, a household is defined as "one person or a group of people who have the accommodation as their only or main residence and for a group, either share at least one meal a day or share the living accommodation, that is, a living room or sitting room". [3] The introduction of legislation to control houses of multiple occupation in the UK Housing Act (2004) [4] required a tighter definition of a single household. People can be considered a household if they are related: full- or half-blood, foster, step-parent/child, in-laws (and equivalent for unmarried couples), a married couple or unmarried but "living as ..." (same- or different-sex couples). [5]

The United States Census definition also hinges on "separate living quarters": "those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building." [6] According to the U.S. census, a householder is the "person (or one of the people) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented (maintained)"; if no person qualifies, any adult resident of a housing unit is considered a householder. The U.S. government formerly used "head of the household" and "head of the family", but those terms were replaced with "householder" in 1980. [7] In the census definition of a household, it

... includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated persons who share living arrangements. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.) [8]

On July 15, 1998, Statistics Canada said: "A household is generally defined as being composed of a person or group of persons who co-reside in, or occupy, a dwelling." [9]

Economic definition

Although a one-income-stream economic theory simplifies modeling, it does not necessarily reflect reality. Many, if not most, households have several income-earning members. Most economic models do not equate households and traditional families, and there is not always a one-to-one relationship between households and families.

Social definitions

In social work, a household is defined similarly: a residential group in which housework is divided and performed by householders. Care may be delivered by one householder to another, depending upon their respective needs, abilities, and (perhaps) disabilities. Household composition may affect life and health expectations and outcomes for its members. [10] [11] Eligibility for community services and welfare benefits may depend upon household composition. [12]

In sociology, household work strategy (a term coined by Ray Pahl in his 1984 book, Divisions of Labour) [13] [14] is the division of labour among members of a household. Household work strategies vary over the life cycle as household members age, or with the economic environment; they may be imposed by one person, or be decided collectively. [15]

Feminism examines how gender roles affect the division of labour in households. In The Second Shift and The Time Bind, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild presents evidence that in two-career couples men and women spend about equal amounts of time working; however, women spend more time on housework. [16] [17] Cathy Young (another feminist writer) says that in some cases, women may prevent the equal participation of men in housework and parenting. [18]


Household models in the English-speaking world include traditional and blended families, shared housing, and group homes for people with support needs. Other models which may meet definitions of a household include boarding houses, houses in multiple occupation (UK), and single room occupancy (US).


In feudal or aristocratic societies, a household may include servants or retainers who derive their income from the household's principal income.

Housing statistics

Dwellings with bathrooms [19]
Belgium 23.6%49.1%73.9%
Denmark 39.4%73.1%85.4%
France 28.0%48.9%85.2%
Germany 51.9%71.5%92.3%
Greece 10.4%-69.3%
Ireland 33.0%55.3%82.0%
Italy 10.7%64.5%86.4%
Luxembourg 45.7%69.4%86.2%
Netherlands 30.3%75.5%95.9%
Portugal 18.6%-58%
Spain 24.0%77.8%85.3%
United Kingdom 78.3%90.9%98.0%
Indoor WC, bath/shower and hot running water (1988) [20]
CountryIndoor WCBath/showerHot running water
Ireland 94%92%91%
Italy 99%95%93%
Luxembourg 99%97%97%
Netherlands N/A99%100%
Portugal 80%N/AN/A
Spain 97%96%N/A
1981–82 censuses [19]
CountryBath/showerIndoor WCCentral heating
United Kingdom98.0%97.3%-
Average usable floor space, 1976 [21]
Austria 86 m2 (930 sq ft)
Belgium97 m2 (1,040 sq ft)
Bulgaria 63 m2 (680 sq ft)
Canada 89 m2 (960 sq ft)
Czechoslovakia 69 m2 (740 sq ft)
Denmark122 m2 (1,310 sq ft)
Finland 71 m2 (760 sq ft)
France82 m2 (880 sq ft)
East Germany 60 m2 (650 sq ft)
West Germany 95 m2 (1,020 sq ft)
Greece80 m2 (860 sq ft)
Hungary 65 m2 (700 sq ft)
Ireland88 m2 (950 sq ft)
Luxembourg107 m2 (1,150 sq ft)
Netherlands71 m2 (760 sq ft)
Norway 89 m2 (960 sq ft)
Poland 58 m2 (620 sq ft)
Portugal 104 m2 (1,120 sq ft)
Romania 54 m2 (580 sq ft)
Soviet Union 49 m2 (530 sq ft)
Spain82 m2 (880 sq ft)
Sweden 109 m2 (1,170 sq ft)
Switzerland 98 m2 (1,050 sq ft)
United Kingdom70 m2 (750 sq ft)
United States 120 m2 (1,300 sq ft)
Yugoslavia 65 m2 (700 sq ft)
Average usable floor space, 1994 [22]
Austria85.3 m2 (918 sq ft)
Belgium86.3 m2 (929 sq ft)
Denmark107 m2 (1,150 sq ft)
Finland74.8 m2 (805 sq ft)
France85.4 m2 (919 sq ft)
East Germany64.4 m2 (693 sq ft)
West Germany86.7 m2 (933 sq ft)
Greece79.6 m2 (857 sq ft)
Ireland88 m2 (950 sq ft)
Italy92.3 m2 (994 sq ft)
Luxembourg107 m2 (1,150 sq ft)
Netherlands98.6 m2 (1,061 sq ft)
Spain86.6 m2 (932 sq ft)
Sweden92 m2 (990 sq ft)
United Kingdom79.7 m2 (858 sq ft)
Floor space, 1992–1993 [23]
Australia1993191 m2 (2,060 sq ft)
United States1992153.2 m2 (1,649 sq ft)
South Korea 1993119.3 m2 (1,284 sq ft)
United Kingdom199295 m2 (1,020 sq ft)
Germany 199390.8 m2 (977 sq ft)
Japan199388.6 m2 (954 sq ft)
Households without an indoor WC, 1980 [24]
West Germany7%
Japan 54%
Portugal 43%
United Kingdom6%
Households without a bath or shower
West Germany11%
United Kingdom4%
Households with an indoor WC [25]
Households with a bath or shower [25]
Principal residences in France lacking amenities: [21]
YearRunning waterWCBath or showerCentral heating
Households with central heating[ citation needed ]
Great Britain34%53%
US dwellings with bathroom amenities, 1970 [26]
Flush toilet96%
East German amenities [21]
Running water66%82.2%89%
Central heating2.5%10.6%22%
Amenities in European dwellings, 1970–71 [27]
CountryRunning waterWCBath/shower
United Kingdom-86.3%90.7%
Yugoslavia 33.6%26.2%24.6%
British households lacking amenities [28]
YearBathIndoor/outdoor WCHot running waterIndoor WC
195137.6%7.7%--[ contradictory ]
196122.4%6.5%21.8%-[ contradictory ]
British households sharing amenities [28]
YearBathIndoor/outdoor WCHot running waterIndoor WC
19517.5%14.9%--[ contradictory ]
Households with durable goods, 1964–1971 [29]
CountryYearWashing machineRefrigeratorTelevisionTelephone
Northern Ireland 197145.4%40.1%87.5%27.0%
Scotland 197165.0%53.2%92.1%36.1%
United Kingdom196453.0%34.0%80.0%2.2%
United Kingdom197164.3%68.8%91.4%37.8%
United States196587.4%99.5%97.1%85.0%
United States197092.1%99.8598.7%92.0%
EEC manual workers with durable goods, 1963–1964 [29]
CountryWashing machineRefrigeratorTelevisionTelephone
West Germany66.2%62.1%51.3%1.8%
EEC white-collar workers with durable goods, 1963–1964 [29]
CountryWashing machineRefrigeratorTelevisionTelephone
West Germany62.2%79.1%51.8%19.6%
Dwellings with amenities, 1960–71 [29]
CountryYearRunning waterIndoor running waterToiletFlush toiletBath/shower
Canada 196189.1%--85.2%80.3%
England and Wales 1961-98.7%93.4%-78.7%
Finland 196047.1%47.1%-35.4%14.6%
East Germany1961-65.7%33.7%-22.1%
West Germany1965-98.2%-83.3%64.3%
New Zealand 1960-90.0%---
Poland 196039.1%29.9%26.9%18.9%13.9%
Romania 196648.4%12.3%100.0%12.2%9.6%
United States196094.0%92.9%-89.7%88.1%
Yugoslavia (urban)1961-42.4%34.5%-22.5%
European households with at least one car, 1978 [30]
West Germany62.6%
United Kingdom54.4%
Housing tenure, 1980–1990 [31]
CountryYearPublic rentalPrivate rentalOwner-occupied
United Kingdom199027%7%66%
United States19802%32%66%
EEC households with a garden, 1963–64 [32]
Households with durable goods, 1962 [33]
CountryTelevisionVacuum cleanerWashing machineRefrigeratorCar
Great Britain78%71%43%22%30%
United States87%75%95%98%75%

Housing conditions


A 1961–62 National Housing Institute survey estimated that 13.8 percent of Belgian dwellings were unfit and incapable of improvement. A further 19.5 percent were unfit but had the potential to be improved, and 54 percent were considered suitable (without alteration or improvement) for modern living standards. Seventy-four percent of dwellings lacked a shower or bath, 19 percent had inadequate sewage disposal, and 3.6 percent lacked a drinking-water supply; 36.8 percent had an indoor water closet. [34] According to a 1964 study, 13 percent of Belgium's housing consisted of slums. [35]


Between 1954 and 1973, the percentage of French homes with a shower or bath increased from 10 to 65 percent. During that period, the percentage of homes without flush toilets fell from 73 to 30 percent; homes without running water fell from 42 to 3.4 percent. A 1948 law permitted gradual, long-term rent increases for existing flats on the condition that part of the money was spent on repairs. According to John Ardagh, the law, "vigorously applied, was partly successful in its twofold aim: to encourage both repairs and new building." [36]

United Kingdom

After World War II, a large percentage of British housing was single-family housing. Seventy-eight percent of housing in 1961 consisted of single-family homes, compared to 56 percent in the Netherlands, 49 percent in West Germany and 32 percent in France. [37] In England and Wales in 1964, 6.6 percent of housing units had two or fewer rooms; 5.8 percent had seven or more rooms, 15.2 percent had six rooms, 35.1 percent had five rooms, 26.3 percent had four rooms, and 11.1 percent had three rooms. These figures included kitchens when they were used for eating meals. Fifty percent of 1964 housing had three bedrooms; 1.9 percent had five or more bedrooms, 6.2 percent had four bedrooms, 10.5 percent had one bedroom or none, and 31.3 percent had two bedrooms. A 1960 social survey estimated that 0.6 percent of households in England and Wales exceeded the statutory overcrowding standard; the 1964 percentage was 0.5 percent. In 1964, 6.9 of all households exceeded one person per room. The 1960 figure was 11 percent, with 1.75 percent having two or more bedrooms below the standard and 9.25 percent having one bedroom below the standard. This declined slightly by 1964 to 9.4 percent of households below the standard, with 8.1 percent having one bedroom below the standard and 1.3 percent having two bedrooms or more below the standard. According to local authorities in 1965, five percent of the housing stock in England and Wales was unfit for habitation. [38]

U.S. and Canada

Housing conditions improved in Canada and the U.S. after World War II. In the U.S., 35.4 percent of all 1950 dwellings did not have complete plumbing facilities; the figure fell to 16.8 percent in 1960 and 8.4 percent in 1968. In Canada from 1951 to 1971, the percentage of dwellings with a bath or shower increased from 60.8 to 93.4 percent; the percentage of dwellings with hot and cold running water increased from 56.9 to 93.5 percent. [29] In the United States from 1950 to 1974, the percentage of housing without full plumbing fell from 34 to three percent; during that period, the percentage of housing stock considered dilapidated fell from nine percent to less than four. [39]

See also

Other sources

Related Research Articles

House Building that functions as a dwelling

A house is a single-unit residential building, which may range in complexity from a rudimentary hut to a complex, structure of wood, masonry, concrete or other material, outfitted with plumbing, electrical, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Houses use a range of different roofing systems to keep precipitation such as rain from getting into the dwelling space. Houses may have doors or locks to secure the dwelling space and protect its inhabitants and contents from burglars or other trespassers. Most conventional modern houses in Western cultures will contain one or more bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen or cooking area, and a living room. A house may have a separate dining room, or the eating area may be integrated into another room. Some large houses in North America have a recreation room. In traditional agriculture-oriented societies, domestic animals such as chickens or larger livestock may share part of the house with humans.

Poverty threshold Minimum income deemed adequate to live in a specific country or place

The poverty threshold, poverty limit, poverty line or breadline, is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a particular country. Poverty line is usually calculated by finding the total cost of all the essential resources that an average human adult consumes in one year. The largest of these expenses is typically the rent required for accommodation, so historically, economists have paid particular attention to the real estate market and housing prices as a strong poverty line affect. Individual factors are often used to account for various circumstances, such as whether one is a parent, elderly, a child, married, etc. The poverty threshold may be adjusted annually.

Home Dwelling place used as a human residence

A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for an individual, group or family. It is a fully or semi sheltered space and can have both interior and exterior aspects to it. Homes provide sheltered spaces for instance rooms, where domestic activity can be performed such as sleeping, preparing food, eating and hygiene as well as providing spaces for work and leisure such as remote working, studying and playing. Physical forms of homes can be static such as a house or an apartment, mobile such as a houseboat, trailer or yurt or digital such as virtual space. The aspect of ‘home’ can be considered across scales, from the micro scale showcasing the most intimate spaces of the individual dwelling and direct surrounding area to the macro scale of the geographic area such as town, village, city, country or planet.

The Parker Morris Committee drew up an influential 1961 report on housing space standards in public housing in the United Kingdom titled Homes for Today and Tomorrow. The committee was led by Sir Parker Morris. Its report concluded that the quality of social housing needed to be improved to match the rise in living standards, and made a number of recommendations. The Committee took a functional approach to determining space standards in the home by considering what furniture was needed in rooms, the space needed to use the furniture and move around it, and the space needed for normal household activities.


A roommate is a person with whom one shares a living facility such as a room or dormitory except when being family or romantically involved. Similar terms include dormmate, suitemate, housemate, or flatmate. Flatmate is the term most commonly used in New Zealand, when referring to the rental of an unshared room within any type of dwelling. Another similar term is sharemate. A sharehome is a model of household in which a group of usually unrelated people reside together. The term generally applies to people living together in rental properties rather than in properties in which any resident is an owner occupier. In the UK, the term "roommate" means a person living in the same bedroom, whereas in the United States and Canada, "roommate" and "housemate" are used interchangeably regardless whether a bedroom is shared, although it is common in US universities that having a roommate implies sharing a room together. This article uses the term "roommate" in the US sense of a person one shares a residence with who is not a relative or significant other. The informal term for roommate is roomie, which is commonly used by university students.

Working poor

The working poor are working people whose incomes fall below a given poverty line due to low-income jobs and low familial household income. These are people who spend at least 27 weeks in a year working or looking for employment, but remain under the poverty threshold.


A tenement is a type of building shared by multiple dwellings, typically with flats or apartments on each floor and with shared entrance stairway access, on the British isles notably common in Scotland. In the medieval Old Town, in Edinburgh, tenements were developed with each apartment treated as a separate house, built on top of each other. Over hundreds of years, custom grew to become law concerning maintenance and repairs, as first formally discussed in Stair's 1681 writings on Scots property law. In Scotland, these are now governed by the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004, which replaced the old law of the tenement and created a new system of common ownership and procedures concerning repairs and maintenance of tenements. Tenements with one or two room flats provided popular rented accommodation for workers, but in some inner-city areas, overcrowding and maintenance problems led to slums, which have been cleared and redeveloped. In more affluent areas, tenement flats form spacious privately owned houses, some with up to six bedrooms, which continue to be desirable properties.

Single-family detached home

A stand-alone house is a free-standing residential building. It is sometimes referred to as a single-family home, as opposed to a multi-family residential dwelling.

State housing

State housing is a system of public housing in New Zealand, offering low-cost rental housing to residents on low to moderate incomes. Some 69,000 state houses are managed by Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, most of which are owned by the Crown. In excess of 31,000 former state houses exist, which are now privately owned after large-scale sell-offs during recent decades. Since 2014, state housing has been part of a wider social housing system, which also includes privately owned low-cost housing.

Housing in Japan

Housing in Japan includes modern and traditional styles. Two patterns of residences are predominant in contemporary Japan: the single-family detached house and the multiple-unit building, either owned by an individual or corporation and rented as apartments to tenants, or owned by occupants. Additional kinds of housing, especially for unmarried people, include boarding houses, dormitories, and barracks.

Affordable housing Housing affordable to those with a median household income

Affordable housing is housing which is deemed affordable to those with a median household income or below as rated by the national government or a local government by a recognized housing affordability index. Most of the literature on affordable housing refers to mortgages and number of forms that exist along a continuum – from emergency shelters, to transitional housing, to non-market rental, to formal and informal rental, indigenous housing, and ending with affordable home ownership.


Overcrowding or crowding is the condition where more people are located within a given space than is considered tolerable from a safety and health perspective which will depend on current environment and local cultural norms. Overcrowding may arise temporarily or regularly, in the home, public spaces or on public transport. The former is of particular concern since it is an individual's place of shelter.

A significant portion of the population of the United Kingdom are considered to be in poverty under some measures of poverty.

The terms average Joe, ordinary Joe, Joe Sixpack, Joe Lunchbucket, Joe Snuffy, Joe Schmo and ordinary Jane, average Jane, and plain Jane, are used primarily in North America to refer to a completely average person, typically an average American. It can be used both to give the image of a hypothetical "completely average person" or to describe an existing person. Parallel terms in other languages for local equivalents exist worldwide.

Measuring poverty

Poverty can be and is measured in different ways by governments, international organisations, policy makers and practitioners. Increasingly, poverty is understood as multidimensional, comprising social, natural and economic factors situated within wider socio-political processes. The capabilities approach also argues that capturing the perceptions of poor people is fundamental in understanding and measuring poverty.

Israel's standard of living is significantly higher than that of most other countries in the region, and is comparable to that of other highly developed countries. Israel was ranked 19th on the 2016 UN Human Development Index, indicating "very high" development. It is considered a high-income country by the World Bank. Israel also has a very high life expectancy at birth.

Poverty in the United States Poverty in the U.S.A.

Poverty in the United States of America refers to people who lack sufficient income or material possessions for their needs. Although the United States is a relatively wealthy country by international standards, poverty has consistently been present throughout the United States, along with efforts to alleviate it, from New Deal-era legislation during the Great Depression to the national War on Poverty in the 1960s to poverty alleviation efforts during the 2008 Great Recession.

Many Europeans struggle to find affordable housing. There is a shortage of energy-efficient homes in Europe, the issue is especially bad in many urban areas, where 70% of the EU's population lives. Lack of affordable housing impairs the quality of life for many people. Long commutes reduce quality for life and increase carbon emissions for people travelling by car. Lack of high-quality housing increases the social divide, causing public health problems, poor public safety, lack of workers in central locations, inefficient labour markets and other issues. Almost half of all European residential buildings were constructed pre-1970 when energy consumption in materials, standards and techniques was not considered. The European Commission found that 75% of buildings and housing need to be made more energy-efficient to meet climate goals. Zumtobel Group, an Austrian lighting company is researching more efficient lighting and light management to use lighting systems only when needed. In 2019, the European Investment Bank approved loans to broaden the company’s research into connecting lighting to digital services. In both Sweden and Poland, there is a is dramatically increasing demand for affordable housing in mid-size cities. Sweden is building thousands of affordable rental homes with near-zero energy use and the highest efficiency standards, the European Investment Bank approved a nearly €300 million loan in September 2019 to support this work. In the Polish city of Poznań, many residents do not qualify for city-supported affordable housing due to their high incomes but are unable to buy a home in the regular market because of low credit rating. The city and a local housing company began a project for these residents to build more than 1 000 flats that also have a kindergarten, day-care centre, a playground and parking spaces for people with disabilities. The European Investment Bank provided a €34 million loan for this project. In 2015, more than 4 out of every 10 persons (42.0%) in the EU-28 lived in flats, close to one quarter (24.1%) in semi-detached houses and one third (33.3%) in detached houses The proportion of people living in flats was highest, among the EU Member States, in Spain (65.9%), Latvia (65.0%) and Estonia (62.6%), while the highest proportions of people living in semi-detached houses were reported in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland (51.6%); these were the only Member States where more than half of the population lived in a semi-detached house. The share of people living in detached houses peaked in Croatia (73.4%), Slovenia (65.1%), Hungary (62.1%) and Romania (60.1%); Serbia (66.1%) and Norway (61.2%) also reported that more than 6 out of every 10 persons in of their population were living in detached houses.

Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, buildings or housing in general.

Housing in the United Kingdom

Housing in the United Kingdom represents the largest non-financial asset class in the UK; its overall net value passed the £5 trillion mark in 2014. About 30% of homes are owned outright by their occupants, and a further 40% are owner-occupied on a mortgage. About 18% are social housing of some kind, and the remaining 12% are privately rented.


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