Social inequalities and their influence on housing risk factors and health



A data report based on the WHO LARES database.


Housing conditions have an influence on residents’ health. Different financial capacities - or social determinants in general - may lead to different housing conditions and can be a potential source of inequalities.

The analysis presented used the WHO LARES data set, providing data on housing and health for 8519 individuals in 3373 households from 8 European cities. The study used an exploratory design and identified the magnitude of inequalities for a selected number of social determinants, housing factors, and health outcomes.

Within the LARES survey, less affluent residents are more exposed to and affected by inadequate housing conditions. It is shown that inadequate housing conditions have a significant impact on several health outcomes, and that there is a social gradient for both the housing quality and the housing-related exposure, and for housing-associated health outcomes. Within the social category groups, increased exposure to environmental risks was often but not always associated with an increased health outcome. Multiple exposure scores showed the strongest associations.

Housing conditions must be considered as one of the mechanisms through which social inequalities translates into health inequalities. For the LARES cities, these results indicate a strong need for policymakers and local stakeholders to intervene and develop programmes to overcome such inequalities and provide adequate housing conditions for everyone.