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Black and minority ethnic communities’ experience of overcrowding

The issue of overcrowding, how it can be defined and what steps can be can be taken to resolve it, has been recognised as a major, and increasing, problem. This briefing paper examines this issue with a particular focus on the experience of black and minority ethnic communities, considering issues such as the definition of overcrowding; the impact of overcrowding on health and life prospects, and possible solutions to overcrowding.

Key messages:

  • The definitions used for ‘overcrowding’ are out of date
  • Overcrowding is a growing problem, especially in the private rented sector
  • There are insufficient larger homes to address existing needs
  • Overcrowding has negative impacts in terms of health, education and family relationships
  • Black and minority ethnic households are more likely than white households to be living in overcrowded conditions – this is particularly the case for Bangladeshi and Black African households
  • A number of measures have been identified that could help to address overcrowding.


  • What is meant by ‘overcrowding’?
  • Why is overcrowding increasing?
  • The national picture
  • Impacts of overcrowding
  • Overcrowding and black and minority ethnic households
  • Remedial measures
View document

Author(s): Adrian Jones
Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 16
Publisher: Race Equality Foundation
Publication date: August 2010