Housing conditions

Quantity of housing and its affordability are essential for households to meet the basic need for shelter, personal space, and financial security. The number of rooms per person is a standard measure of whether people are living in crowded conditions; across OECD regions this number varies widely, from half a room in Eastern Anatolia (Turkey) to three in Vermont (United States), a difference almost twice as large as that observed across OECD countries. In 2013, regional differences in the number of rooms per person were the widest in Canada, the United States, Spain and Turkey (Figure 1.7). The indicator on the number of rooms per person has, however, some limitations, which may hamper regional and international comparisons. First, it does not take into account the possible trade-off between the number of rooms in the dwelling and its location: some households may choose to live in smaller dwellings located in better serviced areas than in larger homes in less desirable locations. Second, it does not take into account the overall size of accommodation, which is generally smaller in urban areas than in rural areas.

On average, people in OECD countries spend just over 20% of their annual household gross adjusted disposable income on housing. Nevertheless, housing expenditure exceeds 35% of household disposable income in the capital regions of Oslo (Norway), Copenhagen (Denmark), Jerusalem (Israel) and Brussels (Belgium); whereas it is below 20% in every region of Australia and Slovak Republic (Figure 1.8).


The number of rooms per person is a measure of whether people are living in crowded conditions. It is measured as the number of rooms in a dwelling, divided by the number of people living in the dwelling. It excludes rooms such as a kitchenette, scullery/utility room, bathroom, toilet, garage, consulting rooms, office or shop.

The share of household gross adjusted disposable income spent on housing and maintenance of the house as defined in the System of National Accounts (SNA), includes actual and imputed rentals for housing, expenditure on maintenance and repair of the dwelling (including miscellaneous services), on water supply, electricity, gas and other fuels, as well as the expenditure on furniture, furnishings, household equipment and goods and services for routine home maintenance. This measure of housing costs excludes household payments for interest and principal on housing mortgages.


OECD (2015), OECD Regional Statistics (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/region-data-en.

See Annex C for data sources and country-related metadata.

Reference years and territorial level

2013; TL2.

Rooms per person: no regional data are available for Chile and Iceland.

France, Korea and Mexico, 2010; Australia, Canada, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and United Kingdom (regional values except Scotland), 2011; Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom (national value and Scotland) and United States, 2012; and Denmark, 2014.

Housing expenditures: no regional data are available for Chile, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and United States.

Ireland and Switzerland, 2010; Australia, Portugal and Spain, 2011; and Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Slovak Republic and United Kingdom, 2012.

Further information

OECD Regional Well-Being: www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org/.

Figure notes

 1.7: Greece, Slovak Republic and Slovenia are not depicted because the maximum and minimum values are equal; values for Greece correspond to NUTS 1.

 1.8: Each observation (point) represents a TL2 region of the countries shown in the vertical axis, except the Netherlands and New Zealand where observations correspond to NUTS 1.

Information on data for Israel: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932315602.

1.7. Regional variation in number of rooms per person, 2013


1.8. Housing expenditure as a share of household disposable income, 2013