A US study looking at household crowding (defined as having more household members than rooms) found that youth who experienced crowding between the ages of 15 and 18 were less likely to complete high school by the age of 19 and had completed fewer years of education by the age of 25. At each level of socioeconomic status and housing cost burden, and distinct from the influence of economic resources, more crowding was linked to less educational attainment.

The researchers, Leonard M. Lopoo and Andrew S. London of Syracuse University (New York), looked at the impact of household crowding at all ages of childhood (0-18) and also at the total number of years an 18-year-old had been living in these conditions. The most robust correlations with educational attainment were found with crowding during the ages of 15 to 18.

Household crowding is widespread in the US, especially among the poor and near-poor.

The researchers offer several possible explanations. Perhaps disruption of study or sleep at home at this crucial stage of development is particularly detrimental to long-term educational achievement and, therefore, attainment. These young people may be distracted by adult responsibilities in their homes. Or they may they go out more to get space and, therefore, are more prone to risky behaviour.

Header photo: Jay Morrison. Creative Commons.


Lopoo LM & London AS (2016), Household crowding during childhood and long-term education outcomes, Demography 53.3