In the European Union (EU), 17.2% of the population were living in overcrowded households in 2019, meaning they did not have enough rooms compared to the size of the household. Overcrowded households can feel even smaller with kids playing in the same room as parents trying to telework during the coronavirus lockdown. Moreover, overcrowded environments can present a higher risk of spreading the virus.
On the other hand, staying home alone for days on end brings its own set of challenges as well. In the EU, almost one in three persons (32.7%) lived in under-occupied dwellings in 2019, meaning that the dwellings were deemed to be too large, in terms of excess rooms and more specifically bedrooms, for the needs of the household living in it.
Overcrowding rate falling slightly in countries with the highest rates
Among the EU Member States, almost half the population in Romania (45.8%) were living in overcrowded households in 2019. This was also the case for around two in every five persons in Latvia (42.2%), Bulgaria (41.1%), Croatia (38.5%) and Poland (37.6%). Compared to the previous year, the share of the population living in overcrowded dwellings fell slightly in all of these countries, with the strongest fall recorded in Poland (-1.6 pp).
At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest overcrowding rates were recorded in Cyprus (2.2%), Ireland (3.2%), Malta (3.7%) and the Netherlands (4.8%).
Seven in ten persons living in under-occupied dwellings in Malta, Cyprus and Ireland
In 2019, almost three quarters of the population were living in under-occupied dwellings in Malta (72.6%), Cyprus (70.5%) and Ireland (69.6%). In Spain (55.4%), Luxembourg (54.0%), Belgium (53.9%) and the Netherlands (53.4%) more than half of the population were living in dwellings deemed too large. From 2018 to 2019, the share of the population living in under-occupied dwellings decreased in most of these countries except in Luxembourg which recorded a small rise (+0.3 pp), with the most pronounced drop in Belgium (-4.7 pp).
In contrast, less than 15% of the population were living in dwellings deemed to be too large in Romania (7.7%), Latvia (9.6%), Greece (10.7%), Bulgaria (11.5%), Croatia (12.0%), Slovakia (14.0%) and Italy (14.2%).
For more information on statistics available in this area, take a look at the latest Housing in Europe publication.
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