6.4 million people in Germany lived in overcrowded apartments in 2019


Press release No.N 079 from November 26, 2020

  • Overcrowding rate in Germany around 9 percentage points below the EU average (17.1%)
  • Around 340,000 more people than in the previous year lived in a confined space in Germany
  • Those living alone, those at risk of poverty, single parents and children are affected more than average

WIESBADEN – Activities outside of your own four walls are currently severely restricted due to the measures taken to combat the corona pandemic. This can be particularly stressful for people who live in overcrowded apartments. In Germany, around 6.4 million were affected in 2019, 340,000 more than in the previous year. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) according to the current results of the Living in Europe (EU-SILC) survey, the overcrowding rate in Germany in 2019 was 7.8%, still a good 9 percentage points below the average value for the EU-27 (17.1%) %). An apartment is considered overcrowded if it has too few rooms in relation to the number of people.

People in cities are increasingly affected by overcrowding

The trend towards urban living in this country is also reflected in the growing number of overcrowded apartments. Due to the increasing demand, rents and house prices, it became clear that more and more people live in a small space. Every eighth person (12.7%) lived here in a space that was too small in 2019 – an increase of around 3 percentage points compared to 2010. Living space is also becoming scarcer in small towns and suburbs. In 2019, 5.5% of the people lived here in a confined space; in 2010 it was 4.7%. By contrast, there is an opposite trend in rural areas. In 2019 only 4% of the apartments were overcrowded – previously it was 4.7%.

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Those living alone, those at risk of poverty, single parents and children are particularly affected

Even people who live alone can live in a confined space. They must have at least two rooms, such as a living room and bedroom, so that their apartments are not considered overcrowded. Around 12% of people living alone in Germany, however, lived in too narrow a space. Among the households without children, people living alone were most likely to be overcrowded. 5% of the population in households with 3 or more adults and only a good 1% of people in households with two adults lived in overcrowded apartments.

Ultimately, the income of a household has a decisive effect on the size of the apartment. In 2019, more than one in five (20.5%) people at risk of poverty lived in too narrow a space in Germany.

The overcrowding rate among single parents and their children in Germany was 19%. Against this background, it is not surprising that children and young people up to 18 years make up the age group with 12% who most often live too cramped. According to the definition of the overcrowding rate, two children under 12 years of age are still allowed to share a room regardless of their gender, while this is only possible for children and adolescents from 12 to 17 years of age if they are of the same gender. Otherwise your own room is considered appropriate.

Adults between 18 and 64 years of age, with a share of 8.3%, were above the average of the total population (7.8%) in 2019. Senior citizens aged 65 and over (2.6%) lived less often in overcrowded apartments.

People in Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria are particularly affected

In the economically weaker countries of the EU-27, the proportion of the majority of people lived in overcrowded apartments: in Romania (45.8%), Latvia (42.2%) and Bulgaria (41.1%), the three EU-27 countries the highest overcrowding, almost every second person had too little living space available. In contrast, the island states of Cyprus (2.2%) and Malta (3.7%) had the least to contend with overcrowding in the EU.

People at risk of poverty lived more often than average in overcrowded apartments in the EU-27 comparison. In 2019, this affected almost every third person (29.5%) in the EU – 12.4% percentage points more than the average (17.1%).

Methodological notes:
EU-SILC (European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) is the EU-wide comparable data source on income, poverty and living conditions in Europe. Uniform definitions and minimum methodological standards apply to statistics in all Member States. The official survey, the implementation and processing of which is the responsibility of the member states, has been carried out annually in Germany since 2005 under the name LEBEN IN EUROPA.

Accommodation (apartment, house) is considered overcrowded if at least one of the following rooms Not is available:

  • a common room,
  • one room per couple living in the household,
  • one room for each additional person aged 18 and over,
  • a room for two children under 12 years of age,
  • a room for two children of the same sex between 12 and 17 years of age,
  • one room for each child between the ages of 12 and 17 if they are of different sex.

According to the definition, people who have less than 60% of the median equivalised income are at risk of poverty.
For Ireland, Italy and Slovakia there are no values ​​for overcrowding for 2019.

More information:
– You can find the data on the overcrowding rate on our website Europe in figures or in the Eurostat database.
– Results from LEBEN IN EUROPA 2019 as well as methodological explanations and publications can be found in the topic Living Conditions and Risk of Poverty.
– You can find more results on the subject of living here.

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