Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Sofa surfers and shed dwellers: new living arrangements and household surveys in the UK and France

Coast, Ernestina ORCID: 0000-0002-8703-307X, Randall, Sara, Fanghanel, Alex, Lelievre, Eva and Ba-Gning, Sadio (2012) Sofa surfers and shed dwellers: new living arrangements and household surveys in the UK and France. In: European Population Conference, 2012-06-13 - 2012-06-16, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, SWE. (Submitted)

Download (690kB) | Preview


Data collection practicalities and the need for meaningful data analysis require a social unit to be defined. The ‘household’ is almost universally used as this unit of survey enumeration. Despite apparent harmonisation, European countries have different interpretations of the definition of private household and there is a clear lack of harmonisation both between surveys and countries. This study aims understand the implications of harmonizing definitions of the ‘household’ for survey data to represent the realities of new and emergent living arrangements in Europe. We explore which new forms of living arrangements and households are captured and / or represented in household surveys and censuses in the UK and France. We use 2 research: in-depth semi-structured interviews with informants involved in the design and production of household surveys and censuses; and, case study households (n=60) in the UK and France, producing qualitative data on living arrangements. We find considerable variation in the extent to which understanding of household meshes with data collected. We identify population sub-groups that are likely to be poorly captured and represented by household surveys, including: people who live temporarily, often as a result of a critical change (eg:divorce), with others (“sofa surfers”); children who are cared for by multiple households; those living in private rented tenancy accommodation or in unofficial accommodation (eg: garden sheds); dual earner couples who live apart during the working week; retired couples living separately each one in their dwelling house; young adults who still live at home with their parents; and, illegal migrants (without residence permit). We illustrate using detailed case studies drawn from our primary fieldwork. Our key informant interviews also point towards ways in which the increasing administration of household surveys using technology (eg: internet-based) might lead to further exclusion of some population sub-groups, or poor information being collected from them

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Authors
Divisions: Social Policy
LSE Health
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DC France
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D1 - Household Behavior and Family Economics > D13 - Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J0 - General
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2012 13:43
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:07
Funders: Agence National de la Recherche, Economic and Social Research Council

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics