Societal trends in European countries related to households and housing conditions include the steady disintegration of extended and nuclear families. An increasing number of elderly people live alone, and the number of single-parent households is growing. Homelessness has increased, and national authorities are recognizing it as a problem. Adolescents, single people, single parents and unemployed people are disproportionately affected. The causes of these trends are complex but are related to unemployment and the growing share of the workforce receiving low wages.
Europeans spend an average of about 80% of their time indoors, and inadequate housing and buildings can contribute to illness in many ways. Data on housing size and occupancy conditions in the CCEE and NIS indicate a housing deficit. Homelessness increased in the European Region as a whole during the 1990's.