Some social implications of high density housing

Mitchell, R. E.

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Mitchell, R. E. (1971). Some social implications of high density housing. American Sociological Review, 36(1), 18–29.

The existing literature on the social, personal, and health consequences of high density housing is unclear regarding the significance that can be attached to the physical features of housing. The present study, which is based on interview information collected in Hong Kong, is able to control for deprivations and stresses related to "poor housing," and it is also able to distinguish superficial from more severe measures of personal strain. High densities are seen to have very little effect on individuals and families, although there is a suggestion that congestion is a potentially significant stress.

Main finding
The data shows that floor level and residential composition negatively affect emotional well being. Those who live in upper floor levels with other families in the same apartment have lower levels of emotional well being. This relationship is not shared with those living on the ground floor, likely because of their easy access to open space. Nor is it shared with families living alone on upper floors. Families living in dense areas, regardless of floor level, tend to have less control of their children, likely because children need to leave the home to access open play space.

Description of method used in the article
The data analyzed comes from three large-scale surveys conducted in Hong Kong. The first focused on individuals 18 years of age and over; the second on families; and the third on secondary school students.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Gathering/Socializing Play/Passive Recreation
Physical types
Geographic locations