Exploring the Impact of Socioeconomic and Demographic Factors on Public Health


The public health of an area is influenced by both socioeconomic and demographic factors. WHO (2012) attributed this factors, socioeconomic, cultural and environment as determinants of health condition individuals and populations. Its management and control are solely dependent on the society population density, social activities, economic factors and living standards of the residents of the given area (County of Los Angeles Public Health, 2013). Understanding the factors affecting the health in a particular area primarily urban setting is a major step in eradicating any health concerns in a community. This study mainly investigates housing problems in Newham borough of London about health of its residents.

Area of study


Newham is the third fastest growing and the eleventh largest borough in London with a population of 308,000 (2011) with male comprising of 52 percent (Office of National Statistics, 2014). Its age profile is relatively young, with only 6.7 percent of the general population aged above 65 compared to 16.5 nationally (les et al. 2012). The region is considered ethnically diverse consisting of a large population of Asians, Blacks as well as Whites, as projected by GLA (2010) ethnic group projection. The life expectancy and immortality rate both men and women have seen an improvement to 82.6 and 81.1 respectively, though, it is still third worst in England.

Newham is the ranked third most deprived local authority in the country by IDM (2010) with all its wards ranked in 20 percent most deprived, where eight were ranked in the 5 percent of most deprived in the nation.

Recently, issues of health inequalities in different parts of Newham area has become a major concern (Flowers, 2012). For instances, poor, overcrowded housing and deprivation have increased in the region. Therefore, Newham provides an ideal situation for the study of demographic and social factors that affects its general society health, and by the above features of indifference and diversity, it will provide best and insightful understanding of the health issues and related problems faced by other urban community.

Primary health issues in Newham.

The issue of poor, overcrowded housing and how it is affecting or may influence the health of the population is the main issue that will be investigated and reported in this study (Cooper et al. 2014). Also how deprivation levels have led to overcrowding and hence deterioration of society health in general.

Social determinants of health.

The health status is largely determined by socioeconomic status and activities of an area. The income, education, housing quality and living conditions have profound significances on the general health of the society (Communities and Local Government, 2011). These factors are related to both mental and physical health as well as the individual growth and development.

Health issue; poor, overcrowded housing.

Homes that do not meet the required standard for decency is higher in Newham than London average averaging 27 percent. Recent data by indicates that Newham has the highest overcrowded houses in London. In 2010, 17.9 percent of homes in Newham were defined as overcrowded compared to 7.5 percent in London (Mayhew & Harper. 2013). Moreover, there is an increase in residents living in temporary dealings. Overcrowding is measured by the bedroom standard, comparing the size with the structure and floor space of the household to the bedrooms available.

Background study.

Correlating between overcrowding, indecent housing to deprivation levels in Newham.

Living in overcrowded housing refers to the situation where more people are dwelling a confined space more than require capacity. Therefore, the movement is restricted, exhibiting poor hygiene, and personal space and privacy secluded. Unlike overcrowding, indecent housing depletes living in reasonably spacious, but the facilities such as heating, clean water, drainage and sewage, and environmental factors such as clean, breathable air are limited or not there at all. Whereas deprivation levels show the availability or lack of materials considered to be basic human necessities in society (Cave & Cooke. 2004).

The cause of overcrowding.

The rate of overcrowding and indecent housing is highest in London and it continuous to rise gradually especially in the borough of Newham (Shelter. 2005). High poverty levels and high increase in population has been attributed as the leading cause of overcrowding and indecent housing. In the recent past, more residents are being either evicted out or rehoused to live in temporary accommodation, according to the council, the situation is “only going to get worse” as population increases gradually while the government reduces its welfare contribution (Hoops. 2016).

The cause of overcrowding

(Image)Image courtesy of London Poverty Profile website.

House developed and delivered by the Newham council are much above market price. According to the Greater London Authority, GLA, report (2012), Newham developed around 900 affordable households although it delivered almost 4500 market properties. Therefore, the affordable housing accounted for 20 percent of the net demand and completion. While this development continues, the Newham borough continues to face problems with housing facilities.

Data collection method.

The data was obtained mainly through observation of persons and their activities relating to this study in the London Borough of Newham. Other forms of data collection such as questionnaire and secondary data for council and local government records was used to supplement and offer insight to the study. The questionnaire is provided in the appendix. Some of the secondary data includes; data from the Greater London Authority, 2006 Housing Strategy Statistical CLG, 2011 census documents provided by local authorities, the council of Newham and London and also journals and newspaper reports.

Data collected.



The data above was obtained by observing the house bedroom number and number of occupants dwelling in. Though questionnaire (Appendix 1) was given to back up the observed information and to provide more data on the occupant, observation and secondary data provide a lot of information pertaining people’s health and their dwellings.

Secondary data.

Secondary data Secondary data

London borough of Newham has lower life expectancy and higher mortality rates than any other borough in London, with female life expectancy being the lowest in the country.

Analysis and interpretation of data.

According to joint strategic Needs assessment report (2010), the primary cause of the death in Newham borough are cancer 35 percent of all reported death, respiratory illness contributing 25 per cent and respiratory complication causing 10 per cent. These reflect the demographic and socioeconomic significances on public health.

Research into overcrowding in Newham borough showed that almost all overcrowded family members who responded indicated that they were forced to adapt to irregular and uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. This situation became relative difficult for children of different age and sexes, especially at teenage. The irregular and chaotic sleeping have a significant negative impact both psychologically and child development, this being attributed to mental health.

However, it was observed that overcrowding disproportionately affected blacks and Asians, the minority, ethnic communities. Where minority families were as twice likely to be severely overcrowded families as to White families.


There was substantial agreement by respondents, 75 percent, agreeing that overcrowding harms the health of their members particularly their children. Whereas, 79% strongly agreed that this had a damaging influence on the child growth, development, and education. While 80% of the respondents noting that the situation made it difficult for the children to study. Moreover, over 85% of the responses indicated that overcrowding caused disagreement and fighting among children and there were no playing or recreational space (Appendix 2).

Improper accommodation ‘indecent housing’ and overcrowding are major factors in the transmission of diseases mainly air and water borne with epidemic potentials such as acute respiratory infections, cholera, meningitis, and Ebola. Diseases outbreak are more frequent and severe in the densely populated area, especially with intolerable living conditions (Beer, 1998). Public amenities in the area such as schools and health reflect not only the people concentration but also the concentration of infectious germs and virus (Tao, 2015). Therefore, improper and overcrowding in an urban setting can quickly transform into a major epidemic in the case of an outbreak. Also, controlling transmittable disease tends to be a challenge in a crowded environment.

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Lack of proper dwelling or living in overcrowded housing does not have a potential of creating an epidemic in a time of the outbreak, but also it is related to other physical and psychological in both children and adults, this is a witness in high chronic and respiratory related diseases. Children growth and development is mainly influenced by this health issues not only in Newham region but also in other urban areas.


  1. The council should hold public functions and assemblies to address the benefits and needs of better housing standards pertaining individual health. The impact this possess to an individual and the general health of the public should be prioritized by local government and authorities.
  2. The government should provide affordably family-sized homes with adequate outdoor space. Through policies that realistic and achievable such as rolling ten years plan to accommodate some people living in temporary and overcrowded housing yearly, the problem can be eliminated.
  3. Local government with collaboration with nation government and Non-government organization should develop more recreational facilities such gym and parks in the area.

Cited works.

  • Cave B, Cooke A and Benson K (2004) Urban Renaissance Lewisham - health and social impact assessment.London: NHS Lewisham PCT. Retrieved from
  • www.apho.org.uk/resource/view. aspx?RID=44245
  • Communities and Local government, 2011. The Englich Indices of Deprivation 2010, London: Neighbourhoods Statistical release.
  • Flowers, R., 2012. Newham Joint Strategic Needs Assement 2011/12, London: s.n.
  • Mayhew, L. & Harper , G., 2013. The uses of Local administrative data with special focus on older people. Health and well-being in Newham, Volume 1, pp. 5-56.
  • Beer, A. (1998). Overcrowding, Quality and Affordability: Critical issues in non-metropolitan rental housing. Rural Society, 8(1), pp.5-15.
  • Cooper, K., Smith, F. and Veasey, P. (2014). Public health profiles for the community hubs in Newham. Collaborating for Health, 3, pp.2-136.
  • County of Los Angeles Public Health, (2013). How Social and Economic Factors Affect Health. Social Determinants of Health. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Department of Health, pp.2-24.
  • Les, M., Gillian, H. and Sam, W. (2012). The London Borough of Newham Population growth and change 2007/2011. neighbourhood knowledge management, 3, pp.3-21.
  • Loison-Leruste, M. and Quilgars, D. (2014). Increasing Access to Housing: Implementing the Right t Housing in England and France. European Journal of Homelessness, 3(2030-2762), pp.75-102.
  • Office for National Statistics, (2014). 2011 Census: Key Statistics for local authorities in England and wales.. Statistical Bulletin. Office for National Statistics, pp.5-40.
  • Regeneration Planning and Property Directorate, (2010). Newham, London. Local Economic Assessment 2010 to 2027. Regeneration Planning and Plroperty Directorate, pp.2-116.
  • Tao, L. (2015). The drawbacks of housing overcrowding characteristic to rural migrants’ life in Beijing. HBRC Journal.
  • World Health Organization, (2012). Health in an Urban context. Hidden Cities and Overcoming Health Inequities in Urban Setting. WHO, pp.3-19.
  • Robertson MJ and Cousineau MR ( ) Health Status and Access to Health Services among the Urban Homeless. In AJPH May 1986, Vol 76, No 5. Retrieved from http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.76.5.561
  • Hopps, K. (2016). Newham's housing crisis is 'only going to get worse' says council. Newham Recorder, p. 1. Retrieved from http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/newham_s_housing_crisis_is_only_going_to_get_worse_says_council_1_4485024


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