Adobe Stock/Condor 36

In the United States, the conversation on housing is heated, involving design considerations, legislation, code, resilience and all while demand continues to increase. But it isn't restricted to the United States. Globally, the need for more housing is becoming a larger issue. How will solutions arise in the next 80 years to solve for it?

By the end of this century, the world’s population will have increased by half – that’s another 3.6 billion people. According to the UN, the global population is set to reach over 11.2 billion by the year 2100, up from the current population which was estimated at the end of 2017 to be 7.6 billion. And that is considered to be “medium growth”.

The upscaling required in terms of infrastructure and development, not to mention the pressure on material resources, is equivalent to supplying seven times the population of the (pre-Brexit) European Union countries, currently 511m. With the global population rising at 45m per year, comes the inevitable rise in demand for food, water and materials, but perhaps most essentially, housing.

Housing needs are changing
Average household sizes vary significantly between different continents and also by country. According to the UN, recent trends over the last 50 years have also shown declines in household sizes. For example, in France, the average household size fell from 3.1 persons in 1968 to 2.3 in 2011, the same time the country’s fertility rate fell from 2.6 to 2.0 live births per woman. In Kenya, the average household size fell from 5.3 persons per household in 1969 to 4.0 in 2014, in line with a fertility decline from 8.1 to 4.4 live births per woman.

Increasingly ageing populations, particularly in developed countries, are causing a demographic shift in future care needs, but it also means that people are staying in their own homes for longer, which affects the cycle of existing housing becoming available each year. One of the most marked changes has been the rise in one and two-person households in the UK and other developed countries.

Statistics published by the National Records for Scotland, for example, reveal the influence of these changing demographics, with future household demand rising faster than population growth. By 2037, Scotland’s population growth is forecast to be 9%, with growth in the number of households forecast to be 17%. This 8% difference is in effect the household growth demand from the existing population.

In England, between now and 2041, the population is expected to increase by 16%, with projected household growth at 23%, resulting in a 7% difference in demand.

As people live longer and one and two-person households increase, the number of future households required rises faster than the population. In 2014, urban issues website CityLab dubbed the situation the “world’s ticking household bomb”.

As more developing countries deliver infrastructure and progress similar to developed countries – improving the standard of living and extending life expectancy – household sizes will decrease, placing greater demand on supply of new housing. So if this difference between household demand and population growth occurs globally at around 7-8% over the next 80 years, this will require an additional 800m homes.

Read More