Housing, or more generally living spaces,[1] refers to the construction and assigned usage of houses or buildings collectively, for the purpose of sheltering people — the planning or provision delivered by an authority, with related meanings.[2] The social issue is of ensuring that members of society have a home in which to live, whether this is a house, or some other kind of dwelling, lodging, or shelter.[3] Many governments have one or more housing authorities, sometimes also called a housing ministry, or housing department.

Macroeconomy and housing price

Previous research shows that housing price is affected by the macroeconomy. Li et al (2018)'s research showed that 1% increase in the Consumer Price Index leads to a $3,559,715 increase in housing prices and raises the property price per square feet by $119.3387. Money Supply (M2) has a positive relationship with housing prices. As M2 increases by one unit, housing prices will rise by 0.0618 in a study conducted in Hong Kong. When there is a 1% increase in the best lending rate, housing prices drop by between $18,237.26 and $28,681.17 in the HAC model. Mortgage repayments lead to a rise in the discount window base rate. A 1% rise in the rate leads to a $14,314.69 drop in housing prices, and an average selling price drop of $585,335.50. As the US real interest rate increases, the interest rates in Hong Kong must follow, increasing the mortgage repayments. When there is a 1% increase in the US real interest rate, the property prices decreased from $9302.845 to $4957.274, and saleable area drops by $4.955206 and $14.01284. When there is a 1% rise in overnight Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate, the housing prices drop to about 3455.529, and the price per ft2 will drop by $187.3119.[4]

Living space in terms of units of area

The amount of square meters or square feet used as housing per family group can vary considerably - even within a single jurisdiction.[5]

Informal housing

The term "informal housing" can include any form of shelter or settlement (or lack thereof) which is illegal, falls outside of government control or regulation, or is not afforded protection by the state.[6] As such, the informal housing-industry is part of the informal sector.[7] To have informal housing status is to exist in "a state of deregulation, one where the ownership, use, and purpose of land cannot be fixed and mapped according to any prescribed set of regulations or the law".[6] While there is no global unified law of property-ownership[8] typically, the informal occupant or community will lack security of tenure and, with this, ready or reliable access to civic amenities (potable water, electricity- and gas-supply, sanitation and waste collection). Due to the informal nature of occupancy, the state will typically be unable to extract rent or land taxes.

The term "informal housing" is useful in capturing informal populations other than those living slum settlements or shanty towns, which the UN Habitat defines more narrowly as "contiguous settlement where the inhabitants are characterizes as having inadequate housing and basic services...often not recognised or addressed by the public authorities an integral or equal part of the city."[9]

Common categories or terms associated with informal housing include: slums, slum settlements, shanty towns, squats, homelessness and pavement dwellers.

Informal housing in developing countries

Populations around the world face issues of homelessness and insecurity of tenure. However, particularly pernicious circumstances may obtain in developing countries, leading to a large proportion of the population resorting to informal housing. According to Saskia Sassen, in the race to become a "global city" with the requisite state-of-the-art economic and regulatory platforms for handling the operations of international firms and markets, radical physical interventions in the fabric of the city are often called for, displacing "modest, low-profit firms and households".[10]

If these households lack the economic resilience to repurchase in the same area or to relocate to a place that offers similar economic opportunity, they are prime candidates for informal housing. For example, in Mumbai, India, fast-paced economic growth, coupled with inadequate infrastructure, endemic corruption and the legacy of restrictive tenancy laws[11] have left the city unable to house the estimated 54% who now live informally.[12]

Many cities in the developing world are experiencing a rapid increase in informal housing, driven by mass migration to cities in search of employment or fleeing from war or environmental disaster. According to Robert Neuwirth, there are over 1 billion (one in seven) squatters worldwide. If current trends continue, this will increase to 2 billion by 2030 (one in four), and 3 billion by 2050 (one in three).[13] Informal housing, and the often informal livelihoods that accompany them, are set to be defining features of the cities of the future.[14]

See also


  1. Ranasinghe, WC and Hemakumara, GPTS(2018), Spatial modelling of the householders' perception and assessment of the potentiality to improve the urban green coverage in residential areas: A case study from Issadeen Town Matara, Sri Lanka, Ruhuna Journal of Science, Vol 9(1); http://rjs.ruh.ac.lk/index.php/rjs/article/view/174
  2. "housing". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Gwendolyn Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America (MIT press, 1983)
  4. Li, R.Y.M. (2018). "Have Housing Prices Gone with the Smelly Wind? Big Data Analysis on Landfill in Hong Kong". Sustainability. 10 (2): 341.
  5. In the United States in 1989, for example: What Do We Pay for Living Space?. Statistical brief. U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census. 1993. Retrieved 18 November 2019. The largest owner-occupied, single-family, detached homes were in the Northeast (a median of 2,189 square feet large) followed by the Midwest (1,969), West (1,745), and South (1,673)
  6. Roy, Ananya (2009). "Why India Cannot Plan Its Cities". Planning Theory. 8 (1): 80.
  7. "The Informal Economy: Fact Finding Study" (PDF). Department for Infrastructure and Economic Cooperation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 October 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  8. Fernandes, Edesio; Varley, Ann (1998). Illegal Cities: Law and Urban Change in Developing Countries. London: Zed Books. p. 4.
  9. Cities Alliance: Cities without Slums (2002). Expert Group Meeting on Urban Indicators, Secure Tenure, Slums and Global Sample of Cities, Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 October 2002. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
  10. Sassen, Saskia (2009). "The Global City – Strategic Site/New Frontier" in Dharavi: Documenting Informalities. Delhi: Academic Foundation. p. 20.
  11. "Pro-tenant laws in India often inhibit rental market". Global Property Law Guide. 20 June 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  12. National Building Organisation (2011). Slums in India: A Statistical Compendium. Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (Government of India).
  13. Neuwirth, Robert. "Our Shadow Cities". TEDTalks. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  14. Laquian, Aprodicio A. Basic housing: policies for urban sites, services, and shelter in developing countries (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1983).

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