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January 2024

Housing and wellbeing: analysing English Housing Survey data 2013-2020

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Housing and wellbeing: analysing English Housing Survey data 2013-2020

About the report

Shelter is central to meeting our basic needs, so it is no surprise that where we live plays an important role in our ability to feel good and function well. 

Research indicates that the condition, location and cost of housing underpins drivers of wellbeing including health, relationships, security and environment. For example, those who live in damp-free homes or who have access to a garden report higher life satisfaction and more frequent feelings of happiness. These effects are smaller than major life events, but still substantial.

Existing evidence also shows that neighbour noise and local vandalism have a negative impact on life satisfaction. This suggests it’s not only where we live, but the behaviour of who we live near, that can impact our subjective wellbeing.

A more complicated question is whether owning or renting affects wellbeing. The evidence is more mixed. It seems that becoming a home-owner does not have a positive impact on mental health. The absence of a clear “home-owner effect” may be due to the increased financial pressures taken on by buying, both immediately and in the long term, which offset positive influences associated with owning your home.

To further understand the relationship between housing and wellbeing, we have analysed data from the English Household Survey April 2013-2020. We look at wellbeing over time, and how it differs according to social-economic characteristics such as age, income, and health conditions, and household variables, such as type of tenure, type of dwelling, and housing dimensions (in square metres) and conditions (if decent or not).

Some of these findings confirm our expectations: good health, employment, and to be married are positively related with wellbeing. Conditions that can reduce wellbeing are to be a lone parent, to live in a house that did not pass the criteria for being a decent house, to rent a house instead of owning it, even with a mortgage. The type of dwellings does not seem to have a strong correlation with wellbeing, as living in an overcrowded house. 

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You may also wish to read the blog article on this document.

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You may also wish to read the blog article on this document.

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