Average living space per capita


The average living space per capita was defined as an important social indicator in Agenda 21, Chapter 7 on sustainable human settlement. This is a key indicator of housing quality and measures the adequacy of living space in dwellings. A low value for the indicator is a sign of overcrowding. According to the UN the indicator measures the adequacy of the basic human need for shelter. Human settlement conditions in many parts of the world are deteriorating mainly as a result of a low level of investment, although such investment has been shown to generate considerable public and private sector investment. Housing policies, particularly in urban areas, have a great impact on the living conditions of people.

In low income settlements, reduced space per person is associated with certain categories of health risks. This indicator is closely linked to several other socio-economic indicators with which it should be considered, including the population density (see Map B.1), the rate of population growth, the area and the population of informal settlements, and the expenditure per capita on infrastructure. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that it is also related to general demographic characteristics such as dependency ratios (see Map B.5) but also cultural habits and traditions of ethnic groups (see Section F).

The average living space per capita in the Lao PDR is approximately 6.5m2. This refers to the area inside the house, not the land area. With an average living area per household of about 44m2 we may assume that this space is normally shared by about 7 persons. This indicates that throughout the Lao PDR, traditionally people live in quite small houses with a small number of rooms being shared by the entire family, leaving no separate rooms for studying or privacy. It can be seen that in urban areas such as those in Vientiane Capital, Vientiane province, and along Road No 13 South through Paksan to Thakek; each person has on average a living space of from 8m2 up to more than 10m2, but in Savannakhet this average decreases from 8m2 to 4m2; then increases again to the west of the provinces of Saravane and Champasack. 

In the provinces of Attapeu and Sekong, and along to the east of Saravane province, and the provinces of Savannakhet and Khammuane the average living space per person is below the national average but increases again from 6 to 8m2 per person from the east of Khammuane province and all of the provinces of Vientiane, Xiengkhuang and Huaphanh, and the centre of Luangprabang province. In the north, from the north of the provinces of Luangprabang, Oudomxay, Bokeo and Luangnamtha the average living space per person is between 4 and 6m2. In the north-west of Xayaboury province in districts like Khob and Xiengthong the average is 6-8 m2 per person. This is the same as that in the districts of Xayaboury and Phieng.  In the districts of Kaenthao and Botaen the average is the same as that of Vientiane Capital.

In conclusion we observe that in urban and more developed regions the average living space per capita is generally higher than in rural and remote areas. So we can observe a pattern that follows the spatial distribution of the general well-being of the population (see Map I.1). Even though population growth in Lao cities was higher than in rural areas and immigration is also growing, we cannot really find overpopulated neighbourhoods or even large slums. This is supported by the fact that the capital manifests homogenous indicators across the different parts of town and there are not single villages with very low values. Nevertheless, we must assume that the disparities in this indicator are probably higher in certain neighbourhoods within the urban areas.




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