Housing and developmental outcomes for children: a scoping study


This scoping study involved reviewing the existing literature on the connections between housing and childhood development and wellbeing and investigated the feasibility of conducting empirical research to examine these connections in the Australian context. The literature review drew on a range of disciplines including sociology, epidemiology, economics, housing policy, social welfare, health, medicine, child development and psychology. Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological theory provided the overarching conceptual framework to consider material uncovered by the literature review. It is premised on the belief that features outside the child’s ecology or immediate environment can, and frequently do, impact on the child’s development. An extensive audit of national, state based and Indigenous specific child health surveys was undertaken to identify and assess existing data sets that may be suitable for analysing the effect of housing on childhood development outcomes. This revealed numerous datasets with an excellent range of child development outcome variables along with key housing variables and good controls for family socio economic status and other potentially confounding variables. Based on the audit, a two-stage program for future research into the relationship between housing and development outcomes for Australian children is recommended.

Project Number: 80551
Research Theme(s): Social wellbeing, Health, ageing and disability
Project Leader: Dockery Alfred Michael
Funding Year: 2008
Research Centre: Western Australia

Published research reports

Download now Final Report: No. 149: Housing and children's development and wellbeing: a scoping study
624 KB PDF Document


The study’s approach will reflect two important considerations.

First, it will take a life-course approach in recognition of the fact that there are various stages of childhood development from infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence to youth and that the nature of the connections between housing and childhood development are likely to change as children progress through their life course.

Second, where possible the study will review existing evidence of differences in the connections between housing and childhood development for different geographical and population groups such as Indigenous groups.  

This scoping study will conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of experts from the fields of sociology, epidemiology, psychology and economics. The project will promote collaboration between the Western Australian AHURI housing researchers and childhood development experts from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and Longitudinal Study of Australian Children consortium advisory group. The childhood development experts have previously collaborated successfully with Dr Dockery (this project’s leader, an AHURI researcher) on other research on childhood outcomes. This project also provides research opportunities for an early career researcher and postgraduate students.