Housing and crises. What demographic impacts? (EN)

According to the United Nations[1], adequate housing is a fundamental human right. Housing underpins the development of the individual, providing stability, security and dignity. Moreover, housing is often considered as a central determinant of mental and physical health, health equity and quality of life. Yet more than one billion people worldwide live in substandard and/or informal housing. Millions of people lose their homes each year and are forced to move because of conflicts, natural disasters, climate change, etc.

Recent crises have highlighted the difficulty of emergency migration: whether political, economic or environmental, they can call for forced displacement, and therefore for adaptation of the host housing market, both in the short term and in a more sustainable way. Changes in society and policies related to housing, its price, access to property, may also dictate certain forms of internal - or even international - migration such as rural exodus and peri-urban migration.

For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, housing became the first line of defence against the disease and its spread, given the containment measures taken around the world. The pandemic seems to have highlighted and even accentuated social inequalities in housing, as well as the vulnerability of the homeless and the population living in poor quality dwellings. These housing conditions are likely to have negative effects on mental and physical health during periods of confinement and to increase the risks of transmission of the virus and the development of co-morbidities.

The war in Ukraine has raised new questions regarding the reception of Ukrainian refugees, such as: how and who can receive migrants and what are the socio-economic characteristics of these host families? How does cohabitation work and how long does it last? The question of measuring and collecting data on these new housing situations, both short and long term, also arises. In addition, the war in Ukraine has and will have an impact on energy prices, which will not affect all households equally. Other major crises lead to population displacements and therefore impact housing. The crisis linked to terrorism in the Sahel is a very particular example, with internal displacements of populations that call for re-housing strategies involving specific risks.

Beyond the examples developed above, crises, whether political, socio-economic, or health-related, have obvious impacts on the standard of living of populations and can exacerbate pre-existing situations of tension in the housing sector, and by extension force internal or international migration.

The expected papers will highlight the interactions between crisis and housing situations, both in the Northern and Southern contexts. More specifically, the proposed papers should analyse one of the following orientations:

  1. The impact of housing conditions during health-related crises (specifically the Covid-19 crisis) on health and mortality, and on the evolution of social inequalities in health and mortality.
  2. The impact of health, socioeconomic, environmental, and political crises on migration and by extension on housing change.
  3. The impact of the war in Ukraine on the demand for emergency and permanent housing, as well as the living conditions of European populations following the rise in energy prices.

Articles must be submitted before May 1st 2023 to the Quetelet Journal. Information concerning the submission is available on the Quetelet Journal website: https://ojs.uclouvain.be/index.php/Quetelet/index  

Contact : thierry.eggerickx@uclouvain.be & yoann.doignon@uclouvain.be

[1] https://www.ohchr.org/fr/special-procedures/sr-housing