Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Housing Satisfaction in Finland with Regard to Area, Dwelling Type and Tenure Status

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Housing Satisfaction in Finland with Regard to Area, Dwelling Type and Tenure Status

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Housing is an important area of research because we spend many hours at home (1), and physical, chemical and biological factors in the home environment can be detrimental to our health and productivity (2). For example, microbial growth due to dampness or moisture damage is a well-known risk factor for asthma symptoms and other respiratory symptoms (3). Noise is associated with sleep disturbance, hearing impairment, myocardial infarction, ischaemic heart disease, and cardiovascular diseases (4-7). Satisfaction with one's dwelling has also been associated with health status: respondents who were satisfied with their dwellings being more likely to report better physical and mental health and also health satisfaction (8).

The housing and living environments have been increasingly recognised as social determinants of health. In general, people with lower socioeconomic position have the worst housing conditions, potentially experiencing, for example, thermal discomfort, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and dampness and mould in their dwellings as well as exposure to noise and outdoor pollution in their living environment (9-13). Therefore, socioeconomic variables are strong determinants of environmental risks, causing inequalities. These inequalities can be expressed in relation to factors such as income, education, employment, age, gender, and race/ethnicity.

Until 1990, Finland has been a country with a low degree of relative poverty and income inequalities. Since the recession of the early 1990s, relative poverty and income inequalities have grown. The growth rate for income inequality and relative poverty has been rapid enough to draw international attention (14, 15). The main reasons for the growing differences have been changes in manufacturing and the labour market (e.g. increasing unemployment and short-term employment). In parallel, progressive taxation and income transfers to equalize income differences have diminished. Further on, differences in income from capital growth have been resulting from release and globalization of finance as well as change of production.

Social and welfare inequalities can be influenced by health and housing policies, with special emphasis on different population groups where intervention is needed. However, knowledge on differences in environmental health risks between different population groups caused by housing quality in Finland is currently scarce. Research may help to identify the groups with higher environmental health risks related to housing. In addition, information about typical levels of housing satisfaction may be useful for reference purposes, to be utilized in comparative assessments in selected residential areas or samples of buildings for detecting areas of relative strengths or those needing improvement. For this purpose, building owners and decision-makers need information about how housing satisfaction vary between different areas, building types and tenure status.

This study presents a comprehensive examination of housing satisfaction in Finland and how it associates with different types of residential area, dwelling and tenure status, taking into account socio-demographic and socioeconomic variables. The underlying null-hypothesis is that housing quality is independent of the types of residential area, dwelling and tenure status.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The study material consisted of nationwide cross-sectional survey data collected in 2007. The housing and health survey covered a random sample of 3,000 households in Finland drawn from the Population Register Centre (FPRC) database including one 18-75 year old Finnish speaking resident per household. The residents could participate either by completing and returning a paper questionnaire or by completing the same questionnaire via the Internet. Participation in the study was voluntary. Privacy protection was in accordance with the Finnish Personal Data Act (16) as well as the requirements of the National Institute for Health and Welfare. …

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