Seven in ten people were living in under-occupied households in Cyprus, one of the highest number in the EU, the latest Eurostat figures show.
Under-occupied households are defined as those too large for the needs of the people living in them in terms of excess rooms, more specifically bedrooms.
In 2018, almost three quarters of the population were living in under-occupied dwellings in Malta (73.4 per cent), Ireland and Cyprus (both 71.4 per cent). In Belgium (58.6 per cent), Spain (56.3 per cent), the Netherlands (53.9 per cent) and Luxembourg (53.7 per cent), more than half of the population were living in such dwellings.
In contrast, less than 15 per cent of the population were living in dwellings deemed to be too large in Romania (7.3 per cent), Latvia (9.9 per cent), Greece (10.4 per cent), Bulgaria (11.5 per cent), Croatia (11.6 per cent), Slovakia (12.7 per cent), Poland (14.4 per cent) and Italy (14.9 per cent).
Cyprus also had the second highest number of elderly people who live in under-occupied residences, nearly nine out of ten.
Close to half of the people aged 65 year or older (46.9 per cent) in the EU were living in under-occupied dwellings in 2018. This was the case for a vast majority of elderly people in Ireland (92.8 per cent), Cyprus (87.4 per cent) and Malta (86.7 per cent), while relatively few elderly lived in dwellings with too many rooms in Romania (12 per cent), Latvia (13.3 per cent), Croatia (16.9 per cent) and Poland (17.8 per cent).
“The classic cause of under-occupation is older individuals or couples remaining in their home after their children have grown up and left; family breakdown can also result in under-occupation,” Eurostat explained.
In the European Union, 17.1 per cent of the population were living in overcrowded households in 2018.
“Overcrowded households can feel even smaller with kids playing in the same room as parents trying to telework during the coronavirus lockdown. Moreover, overcrowded environments can present a higher risk of spreading the virus,” the statistical service commented.
The lowest overcrowding rates were recorded in Cyprus (2.5 per cent), Ireland (2.7 per cent), Malta (3.4 per cent) and the Netherlands (4.1 per cent).
Among the EU member states, almost half the population in Romania (46.3 per cent) were living in overcrowded households in 2018. This was also the case for around two in every five persons in Latvia (43.4 per cent), Bulgaria (41.6 per cent), Croatia (39.3 per cent) and Poland (39.2 per cent).
The share of young people and children that live in overcrowded dwellings is much higher than for the elderly. In 2018, almost one quarter (24.1 per cent) of people aged 18 year or less lived in overcrowded dwellings in the EU, while only 6.9 per cent of those aged 65 years and older did.