A household consists of one or more persons who live in the same dwelling. It may be of a single family or another type of person group. The household is the basic unit of analysis in many social, microeconomic and government models, and is important to economics and inheritance.
Household models include families, blended families, shared housing, group homes, boarding houses, houses of multiple occupancy (UK), and single room occupancy (US). In feudal societies, the royal household and medieval households of the wealthy included servants and other retainers.
For statistical purposes in the United Kingdom, a household is defined as "one person or a group of people who have the accommodation as their only or main residence and for a group, either share at least one meal a day or share the living accommodation, that is, a living room or sitting room". The introduction of legislation to control houses of multiple occupations in the UK Housing Act (2004) required a tighter definition of a single household. People can be considered a household if they are related: full- or half-blood, foster, step-parent/child, in-laws (and equivalent for unmarried couples), a married couple or unmarried but "living as ..." (same- or different-sex couples).
The United States Census definition also hinges on "separate living quarters": "those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building." According to the U.S. census, a householder is the "person (or one of the people) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented (maintained)"; if no person qualifies, any adult resident of a housing unit is considered a householder. The U.S. government formerly used "head of the household" and "head of the family", but those terms were replaced with "householder" in 1980. In the census definition of a household, it
... includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated persons who share living arrangements. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.)
Although a one-income-stream economic theory simplifies modeling, it does not necessarily reflect reality. Many, if not most, households have several income-earning members. Most economic models do not equate households and traditional families, and there is not always a one-to-one relationship between households and families.
In social work, a household is defined similarly: a residential group in which housework is divided and performed by householders. Care may be delivered by one householder to another, depending upon their respective needs, abilities, and (perhaps) disabilities. Household composition may affect life and health expectations and outcomes for its members. Eligibility for community services and welfare benefits may depend upon household composition.
In sociology, household work strategy (a term coined by Ray Pahl in his 1984 book, Divisions of Labour) is the division of labour among members of a household. Household work strategies vary over the life cycle as household members age, or with the economic environment; they may be imposed by one person, or be decided collectively.
Feminism examines how gender roles affect the division of labour in households. In The Second Shift and The Time Bind, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild presents evidence that in two-career couples men and women spend about equal amounts of time working; however, women spend more time on housework. Cathy Young (another feminist writer) says that in some cases, women may prevent the equal participation of men in housework and parenting.
Household models in the English-speaking world include traditional and blended families, shared housing, and group homes for people with support needs. Other models which may meet definitions of a household include boarding houses, houses in multiple occupation (UK), and single room occupancy (US).
After World War II, a large percentage of British housing was single-family housing. Seventy-eight percent of housing in 1961 consisted of single-family homes, compared to 56 percent in the Netherlands, 49 percent in West Germany and 32 percent in France. In England and Wales in 1964, 6.6 percent of housing units had two or fewer rooms; 5.8 percent had seven or more rooms, 15.2 percent had six rooms, 35.1 percent had five rooms, 26.3 percent had four rooms, and 11.1 percent had three rooms. These figures included kitchens when they were used for eating meals. Fifty percent of 1964 housing had three bedrooms; 1.9 percent had five or more bedrooms, 6.2 percent had four bedrooms, 10.5 percent had one bedroom or none, and 31.3 percent had two bedrooms. A 1960 social survey estimated that 0.6 percent of households in England and Wales exceeded the statutory overcrowding standard; the 1964 percentage was 0.5 percent. In 1964, 6.9 of all households exceeded one person per room. The 1960 figure was 11 percent, with 1.75 percent having two or more bedrooms below the standard and 9.25 percent having one bedroom below the standard. This declined slightly by 1964 to 9.4 percent of households below the standard, with 8.1 percent having one bedroom below the standard and 1.3 percent having two bedrooms or more below the standard. According to local authorities in 1965, five percent of the housing stock in England and Wales was unfit for habitation. In 1974 an estimated 23% of the population of the UK lived in a detached house, while 50% lived in an attached house, 23% in an apartment or flat, and 4% in other types of homes (trailers, mobile homes, etc.). In terms of amenities, in 1975 an estimated 1% of all houses were without a flush toilet, 1% without electric lighting, 3% without a fixed bath or shower and 1% without piped water.
In light of the widespread use of polluting fuels and stoves for cooking, WHO issued a set of normative guidance, the Guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion, which offer practical evidence-based guidance on what fuels and technologies used in the home can be considered clean, including recommendations discouraging use of kerosene and recommending against use of unprocessed coal; specifying the performance of fuels and technologies (in the form of emission rate targets) needed to protect health; and emphasizing the importance of addressing all household energy uses, particularly cooking, space heating and lighting to ensure benefits for health and the environment. WHO defines fuels and technologies that are clean for health at the point of use as solar, electricity, biogas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas, alcohol fuels, as well as biomass stoves that meet the emission targets in the WHO Guidelines.
Without strong policy action, 2.1 billion people are estimated to still lack access to clean fuels and technologies in 2030 (1). There is a particularly critical need for action in sub-Saharan Africa, where population growth has outpaced access to clean cooking, and 923 million people lacked access in 2020. Strategies to increase the adoption of clean household energy include policies that provide financial support to purchase cleaner technologies and fuels, improved ventilation or housing design, and communication campaigns to encourage clean energy use.
Each year, 3.2 million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to the household air pollution caused by the incomplete combustion of solid fuels and kerosene used for cooking (see household air pollution data for details). Particulate matter and other pollutants in household air pollution inflame the airways and lungs, impair immune response and reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
WHO provides technical support and capacity building to countries and regions to evaluate and scale-up health-promoting household fuels and technologies. To address household air pollution and its negative impact on health, WHO: 041b061a72