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August 10, 2022

Housing Cost Burden and Life Satisfaction

Acolin, Arthur; Reina, Vincent. (2022). Housing Cost Burden and Life Satisfaction. Journal Of Housing & The Built Environment, 37(4), 1789-1815.

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The share of income that households spent on their housing has been increasing over time in a wide range of countries, particularly among lower income households. In theory, the share of income spent on housing can reflect variations in household preferences for housing consumption but for low-income household, high burdens are likely more reflective of constraints and force these households to face tradeoffs between housing and non-housing consumption that negatively affect their overall life satisfaction. This paper uses data from the 2018 European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) for 14 countries. We find that, controlling for household sociodemographic characteristics, households spending more than 30 percent of their income and those spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing report significantly lower levels of life satisfaction. The estimated relationship is largest for this latter heavily cost burdened group. The negative relationship between housing cost burden and reported life satisfaction is found across countries but varies in magnitude, suggesting that stronger welfare systems may mediate the negative impacts of housing cost burdens, although further research is needed to confirm both this relationship and the precise mechanisms driving it.


Life Satisfaction; Income; Housing; Poor Communities; Subjective Well-being (psychology); Living Conditions; European Countries; Housing Cost; Subjective Wellbeing; Economic Hardship; Homeownership; Affordability; Determinants; Cost Analysis; Housing Costs; Households; Consumption; Low Income Groups; Expenditures; Welfare; Sociodemographics