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Is housing a health insult?

Baker, Emma, Beer, Andrew, Lester, Laurence, Pevalin, David, Whitehead, Christine M E and Bentley, Rebecca (2017) Is housing a health insult? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 (6). p. 567. ISSN 1661-7827

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Identification Number: 10.3390/ijerph14060567


In seeking to understand the relationship between housing and health, research attention is often focussed on separate components of people’s whole housing ‘bundles’. We propose in this paper that such conceptual and methodological abstraction of elements of the housing and health relationship limits our ability to understand the scale of the accumulated effect of housing on health and thereby contributes to the under-recognition of adequate housing as a social policy tool and powerful health intervention. In this paper, we propose and describe an index to capture the means by which housing bundles influence health. We conceptualise the index as reflecting accumulated housing “insults to health”—an Index of Housing Insults (IHI). We apply the index to a sample of 1000 low-income households in Australia. The analysis shows a graded association between housing insults and health on all outcome measures. Further, after controlling for possible confounders, the IHI is shown to provide additional predictive power to the explanation of levels of mental health, general health and clinical depression beyond more traditional proxy measures. Overall, this paper reinforces the need to look not just at separate housing components but to embrace a broader understanding of the relationship between housing and health.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 31 May 2017 12:11
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 07:12

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