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Crowded housing highest among Pacific peoples

Around 4 in 10 Pacific people live in crowded homes in New Zealand and the rate is highest for people with Tuvaluan or Tongan ethnicity, Stats NZ said today.

Overall, around 1 in 10 New Zealanders lived in crowded houses in 2013, a rate largely unchanged since the early 2000s.

“Crowding, especially severe crowding, is linked with poorer health, higher rates of infectious diseases, and poorer educational outcomes for children,” senior analyst Dr Rosemary Goodyear said.

Living in a crowded house looks at ethnicity, and for the first time considers the well-being of people in crowded homes, using data from the 2013 Census and the 2016/17 General Social Survey.

“We found that people living in crowded households are less satisfied with life, and more likely to be short of cash for everyday needs or a visit to the doctor,” Dr Goodyear said.

In total, 398,295 people lived in crowded homes at the time of the 2013 Census; of these, 129,123 were in severely crowded homes. About half of all crowded homes were in Auckland; the highest rates were in south Auckland.

Crowding was highest for people with Pacific ethnicity (39.8 percent), followed by people with Māori (20.0 percent) or Asian (18.4 percent) ethnicity.

“People with Māori or Asian ethnicity were four times more likely to live in crowded homes than people of European ethnicity. Pacific people were around eight times more likely to be living in a crowded house,” Dr Goodyear said.

“Half of all crowded households where the oldest person had a Pacific ethnicity had more than six people under one roof,” she said. Crowding was highest among people with Tongan ethnicity (48.7 percent were in crowded homes).

Around one-quarter of people in crowded households (24.2 percent) rated their life satisfaction as low, compared with 17.1 percent for the total population.

People in crowded households were significantly more likely to say they did not have enough money for everyday needs (25.8 percent compared with 10.9 percent of the total population).

Almost 4 in 10 people in crowded households said they had postponed visits to the doctor because of the cost (24.7 percent postponed by a little and 13.1 percent by a lot). This compares with around 2 of 10 in the total population.

Read Living in a crowded house: Exploring the ethnicity and well-being of people in crowded households for the full report.

More up-to-date information on household crowding will be gathered from the 2018 Census, held on 6 March.

“Given rapidly rising housing costs in many parts of New Zealand in the past five years, crowding is unlikely to have improved, but we won’t have a clearer picture until 2019 at the earliest,” Dr Goodyear said.

What is a crowded home?

Crowding occurs when homes are too small for the number of people in the household. A home is ‘severely crowded’ if the people living there need at least two more bedrooms.

A couple with two boys or two girls aged under 18 years would need two bedrooms to not be crowded and meet the Canadian National Occupancy Standard used in this report.

If that family had another person living with them, they’d be a ‘crowded’ home. If their two-bedroom house had seven people living there, it would rank as ‘severely crowded’, needing an extra two bedrooms.


For more information about these statistics:
• Visit Living in a crowded house: Exploring the ethnicity and well-being of people in crowded households

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