illustration for Domain 5: Comfortable, independent and secure living conditions

Comfortable, independent and secure living conditions: Inequality in the capability to enjoy comfortable, independent and secure living conditions


Description

Inequalities in the capability to enjoy comfortable, independent and secure living conditions is assessed in this domain across a range of indicators and measures. These measures are designed to capture inequalities in the capability to meet basic needs (food, safe water, sanitation and shelter), access to good quality and secure housing, access transport infrastructure, the ability to live in environments that promote dignity and respect, the quality of the local environment (rubbish, pollution, noise, access to greens spaces, etc.), access to leisure facilities and the ability to enjoy leisure time alongside employment or caring responsibilities.

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Inequality measures in this domain assess differences across individuals and groups in terms of meeting minimum acceptable conditions, receiving adequate care, access to basic amenities, and the independence and freedoms required for people to lead the life they have reason to value.

Secure access to food, clean water, shelter, sanitation, warmth and utilities are basic defining features of secure and comfortable living conditions. Where a country or region faces emergencies such as natural disasters (flooding, drought, famine, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, violent storms), war and conflict, people face displacement, disrupting their lives and challenging their capability to enjoy comfortable, independent and secure living conditions or even meet their basic needs. These risks are not faced equally with women, disadvantaged and marginalised groups most vulnerable (Ferris, 2010; Neumayer and Plümper, 2007). Murphy and Gardoni (2010) demonstrate how the capability approach can be used to assess the impact of natural disasters on the basis of changes in individuals’ capabilities. Inhibited access to basic needs does not only occur during times of disaster; for example, food poverty and homelessness are common in many high, middle and low income countries.

Secure access to food, clean water, shelter, sanitation, warmth and utilities are basic defining features of secure and comfortable living conditions. Where a country or region faces emergencies such as natural disasters (flooding, drought, famine, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, violent storms), war and conflict, people face displacement, disrupting their lives and challenging their capability to enjoy comfortable, independent and secure living conditions or even meet their basic needs. These risks are not faced equally with women, disadvantaged and marginalised groups most vulnerable (Ferris, 2010; Neumayer and Plümper, 2007). Murphy and Gardoni (2010) demonstrate how the capability approach can be used to assess the impact of natural disasters on the basis of changes in individuals’ capabilities. Inhibited access to basic needs does not only occur during times of disaster; for example, food poverty and homelessness are common in many high, middle and low income countries.

In terms of inequality, the measures in this domain do not just look at differences between accommodation types but also within accommodation types. Measures include overcrowding, facilities, structural quality and cost burden. These factors often reflect the autonomy of individuals and their ability to have choice and control over where they live. Poor quality housing leads to reduced quality of life, through poor health (for example, respiratory diseases from dampness and some types of fuel), as well as poorer mental health from stress and social isolation. In contrast, some individuals can afford to live in luxury accommodation with surplus space, all the modern conveniences and very pleasant surroundings. Economic inequality can have quite profound effects on access to housing for those who are less well-off. In addition to economic inequality, segregation and discrimination can also have a strong influence on residential inequality which has consequences for health, education and well-being (Williams and Collins, 2001).

For those who experience reduced physical mobility due to disability or old age, there is a need for appropriate adaptions to homes to promote independent living, dignity and self-respect. Adequate care is also necessary for some individuals to remain living in their own homes. Mobility and geographical connectedness are important for independent living, to visit family and friends, to enhance work opportunities, to travel for pleasure and to socialise. Measures included in this domain include access to public transport (including when adaptions are necessary due to disability) and transport infrastructure, and geographical isolation.

We observe large variation in the quality of the local environment in which people live. Typical measures include: pollution levels; noise; odour; unsociable behaviour, rubbish; access to places where children can play; access to leisure facilities. Furthermore, access to green spaces and the natural world makes an important contribution to the quality of people’s lives but is not available to everyone, particularly those living in densely populated urban areas.

Finally, this domain covers inequalities in who is able to achieve a good work-life balance, whether this is a balance between employment or care responsibilities and leisure. Some individuals are unable to work as many hours as they would like and some are required to work unreasonably long hours. The balance between work and other valued aspects of life, commonly referred to as the ‘work-life’ balance, is valued in its own right (Hobson, Fahlén and Takács, 2011). Where individuals are not in a position to choose their hours of work, spend too much time working, or work unsociable hours, this can place limits on other capabilities particularly in the individual, family and social life domain.

References and selected readings

Cromarty, H. (2018). ‘Gypsies and Travellers’, House of Commons Library Briefing Paper 08083

Ferris, E. (2010). ‘Natural disasters, conflict and human rights: tracing the connections’, The Brookings Institution - On the Record

Hobson, B., Fahlén, S., and Takács, J. (2011). ‘Agency and Capabilities to Achieve a Work–Life Balance: A Comparison of Sweden and Hungary’, Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 18, 2, 168-198

Murphy, C., and Gardoni, P. (2010). 'Assessing capability instead of achieved functionings in risk analysis', Journal of Risk Research, 13: 2, 137-147

Neumayer, E., and Plümper, T. (2007). ‘The Gendered Nature of Natural Disasters: The Impact of Catastrophic Events on the Gender Gap in Life Expectancy, 1981-2002’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 97(3) DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.2007.00563.x

Shapiro, T. M., and Kenty-Drane, J. L. (2005). ‘The Racial Wealth Gap’, in C. A. Conrad, J. Whitehead, P. Mason, and J. Stewart (eds.) African Americans in the U.S. Economy, pp. 175–181, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Williams, D. R. and Collins, C. (2001). ‘Racial residential segregation: a fundamental cause of racial disparities in health’, Public Health Reports, 116(5): 404–416


Measurement considerations

Inequality measures in this domain include secure access to food, clean water, clean air, shelter, sanitation, warmth and utilities between different population sub-groups, reflecting the fundamental importance of these conditions.

Variation in housing quality and security of housing tenure are captured by objective inequality measures. For example, rates of overcrowding, type of tenancy (short-term insecure, etc.) and housing quality index.

Independence is measured by geographic mobility through access to transport, the ability to live with dignity and respect for those with a disability and needing adaptions and care.

Work-life balance measures include time spent on leisure activities and subjective assessment of work life balance.

 

Click on the button beside each sub-domain to see related indicators, inequality measures and references to any relevant UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators. You may click on the Expand All button to view all inequality indicators, their measures and SDG indicators within each of the sub-domains.

 

Sub-domains:
Enjoy secure access to food, clean water, clean air, shelter, sanitation, warmth and utilities
Indicator:
Secure access to food, clean water, clean air, shelter, sanitation, warmth and utilities
     Measures:

Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)

Reference: UN SDG:
2.1.2

Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)

Prevalence of stunting (height for age <-2 standard deviation from the median of the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age

Reference: UN SDG:
2.2.1

Prevalence of stunting (height for age <-2 standard deviation from the median of the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age

Prevalence of malnutrition (weight for height >+2 or <-2 standard deviation from the median of the WHO Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age, by type (wasting and overweight)

Reference: UN SDG:
2.1.1

Prevalence of undernourishment

2.2.2

Prevalence of malnutrition (weight for height >+2 or <-2 standard deviation from the median of the WHO Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age, by type (wasting and overweight)

Percentage of population using safely managed drinking water services

Reference: UN SDG:
6.1.1

Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services

6.3.2

Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality

Percentage of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water

Reference: UN SDG:
6.2.1

Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water

6.3.1

Proportion of wastewater safely treated

6.A.1

Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan

Percentage of population sleeping rough without shelter

Rates of fuel poverty - share of households unable to keep their home at a comfortable ambient temperature for a reasonable cost

Percentage of population with access to electricity

Reference: UN SDG:
7.1.1

Proportion of population with access to electricity


Enjoy adequate housing quality and security
Indicator:
Housing quality and security
     Measures:

Percentage of population living in long-term, informal settlements and slums

Reference: UN SDG:
11.1.1

Proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing

Number of people living in shelters, refuges, refugee camps, immigration centres

Number of people living mobile accommodation and caravans

Percentage of the population living in: (a) temporary accommodation; (b) rented accommodation under short-term tenancy agreement

Share of total population living in a dwelling with a leaking roof, damp walls, floors or foundation, or rot in window frames or floor

Rates of housing overcrowding

Inequality in housing quality index

Housing cost overburden rate


Enjoy living conditions that promote independence, dignity and self-respect
Indicator:
Living independently with dignity and respect
     Measures:

Percentage of disabled people living in housing lacking adaptions necessary to live independently, with dignity and respect

Percentage living with unmet care needs necessary to live independently, with dignity and respect by: (a) age group; (b) disability status


Move around freely and enjoy access to safe and appropriate transport
Indicator:
Mobility, transport and access
     Measures:

Proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road

Reference: UN SDG:
9.1.1

Proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road

Monthly travel costs as a percentage of monthly income

Percentage of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and disability status

Reference: UN SDG:
11.2.1

Proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and persons with disabilities


Access and enjoy green spaces and public spaces
Indicator:
Quality of your local area and access to open spaces
     Measures:

Inequality in local environment quality (rubbish, pollution, noise, odour, unsocial behaviour, etc)

Reference: UN SDG:
11.6.1

Proportion of urban solid waste regularly collected and with adequate final discharge out of total urban solid waste generated, by cities

Ability to access free facilities that promote leisure and wellbeing

Reference: UN SDG:
11.7.1

Average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, by sex, age and persons with disabilities

Percentage of children with access to open, green spaces for play

Reference: UN SDG:
11.7.1

Average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, by sex, age and persons with disabilities


Be able to achieve a good work-life/care-life balance
Indicator:
Work-life balance
     Measures:

Satisfaction with work-life/care-life balance

Average minutes per day spent on leisure activities

Travel to work times