Children are defined as living in overcrowded dwellings when there is a ratio of more than two people per room (excluding bathrooms but including kitchen and living room). The overcrowding ratio is obtained by dividing the total number of household members by the total number of rooms occupied by the household. Thus, a dwelling with two bedrooms, a kitchen and sittingroom would be defined as overcrowded if there were more than eight people living in it.
Data Source  Statistics South Africa (2003  2015) General Household Survey 2002  2014. Pretoria, Cape Town: Statistics South Africa. Analysis by Katharine Hall & Winnie Sambu, Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town. 
Notes 

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defines “habitability” as one of the criteria for adequate housing.^{1} Overcrowding is a problem because it can undermine children’s needs and rights. For instance, it is difficult for school children to do homework if other household members want to sleep or watch television. Children’s right to privacy can be infringed if they do not have space to wash or change in private. The right to health can be infringed as communicable diseases spread more easily in overcrowded conditions, and young children are particularly susceptible to the spread of disease. Overcrowding also places children at greater risk of sexual abuse, especially where boys and girls have to share beds, or children have to share with adults.
Overcrowding makes it difficult to target services and programmes to households effectively – for instance, urban households are entitled to six kilolitres of free water, but this householdlevel allocation discriminates against overcrowded households because it does not take account of household size.
In 2014, 3.4 million children lived in overcrowded households. This represents 18% of the child population – much higher than the proportion of adults living in crowded conditions (10%).
Overcrowding is associated with housing type: 55% of children who stay in informal dwellings also live in overcrowded conditions, compared with 29% of children in traditional dwellings and 12% of children in formal housing.
Young children are significantly more likely than older children to live in overcrowded conditions. Twentythree percent of children below two years live in crowded households, compared to 15% of children over 10 years.
There is a strong racial bias in children’s housing conditions. While 20% of African and 19% of Coloured children live in crowded conditions, very few White and Indian children live in overcrowded households. Children in the poorest 20% of households are more likely to be living in overcrowded conditions (25%) than children in the richest 20% of households (1%).
The average household size has gradually decreased from 4.5 at the time of the 1996 population census, to around 3.4 in 2014, indicating a trend towards smaller households, which may in turn be linked to the provision of small subsidy houses. Households in which children live are larger than the national average. The average household size for adultonly households is two people, while the average household size for mixed generation households (i.e. those that include children) is five members.^{2}
For purposes of measuring and monitoring persistent racial inequality, population groups are defined as 'African', 'Coloured', 'Indian', and 'White'.
Weights
Person and household weights are provided by Stats SA and are applied in Children Count – Abantwana Babalulekile analyses to give estimates at the provincial and national levels. Survey data are prone to sampling and reporting error. Some of the errors are difficult to estimate, while others can be identified. One way of checking for errors is by comparing the survey results with trusted estimates from elsewhere. Such a comparison can give an estimate of the robustness of the survey estimates. The GHS weights are derived from Stats SA’s midyear population estimates. For this project, weighted GHS population numbers were compared with population projections from the Actuarial Society of South Africa’s ASSA2008 AIDS and Demographic model.
Analyses of the ten surveys from 2002 to 2011 suggest that some over and underestimation may have occurred in the weighting process:
§ When comparing the weighted 2002 data with the ASSA2008 AIDS and Demographic model estimates, it seems that the number of children was underestimated by 5% overall. The most severe underestimation is in the youngest age group (0 – 9 years) where the weighted numbers of boys and girls yield underestimations of 15% and 16% respectively. The next age group (5 – 9 years) is also underestimated for both boys and girls, at around 7% each. The difference is reduced in the 10 – 14year age group, although boys are still underestimated by around 1% and girls by 3%. In contrast, the weighted data yield overestimates of boys and girls in the upper age group (15 – 17 years), with the GHS overcounting these children by about 5%. The pattern is consistent for both sexes, resulting in fairly equal maletofemale ratios of 1.02, 1.01, 1.03 and 1.01 for the four age groups respectively.
§ Similarly in 2003, there was considerable underestimation of the youngest age groups (0 – 4 years and 5 – 9 years) and overestimation of the oldest age group (15 – 17 years). The pattern is consistent for both sexes. Children in the youngest age group are underestimated by as much as 16%, with underestimates for babies below two years in the range 19 – 30%. The results also show that the overestimation of males in the 15 – 17year age group (9%) is much more severe than the overestimation for females in this age range (1.4%), resulting in a maletofemale ratio of 1.09 in this age group, compared with ratios around 1.02 in the younger age groups.
§ In the 2004 results, all child age groups seem to have been underestimated, with the underestimate being more severe in the upper age group (15 – 17 years). This is the result of severe underestimation in the number of girls, which outweighs the slight overestimation of boys in all age groups. Girls are underestimated by around 6%, 8%, 8% and 12% respectively for the four age bands, while overestimation in the boys’ age bands is in the range of 2 – 3%, with considerable variation in the individual years. This results in maletofemale ratios of 1.10, 1.11, 1.12 and 1.14 for the four age groups.
§ In 2005, the GHS weights seem to have produced an overestimate of the number of males and an underestimate of the number of females within each fiveyear age group. The extent of underestimation for girls (by 7% overall) exceeds that of the overestimation for boys (at 2% overall). These patterns result in maletofemale ratios of 1.06, 1.13, 1.10 and 1.13 respectively for the four age groups covering children.
§ The 2006 weighting process yields different patterns from other years when compared to population estimates for the same year derived from ASSA2008, in that it yielded an underestimation of both females and males. The underestimation of females is greatest in the 0 – 4 and 5 – 9year age groups, while the underestimation of males is in the range 3 – 10% in the 5 – 9 age group and 1 – 6% in the 10 – 14year age group. This results in maletofemale ratios of 1.09, 0.99, 0.96 and 1.00 respectively for the four age groups covering children.
§ The 2007 weighting process produced an overestimation for boys and an underestimation for girls. The underestimation of females is in the range of 4 – 8% while the overestimation for boys is in the range of 1 – 5%. This results in maletofemale ratios of 1.07, 1.06, 1.08 and 1.06 respectively for the four age groups covering children.
§ In 2008, the GHS weighted population numbers when compared with ASSA2008 overestimated the number of boys aged 10 and over, in the range of 3% for the 10 – 14 age group, and 8% for the 15 – 17 age group. The total weighted number of girls is similar to the ASSA population estimate for girls, but this belies an underestimate of female babies below two years (by 7 – 8%), and an overestimate of young teenage girls. The GHS 2008 suggests a maletofemale ratio of 1.03 for children aged 0 – 4 years, which is higher than that of the ASSA2008 model.
§ A comparison of the GHS and ASSA for 2009 suggests a continuation of the general pattern from previous years, which is that GHS weights result in an underestimation of children in the 0 – 4 age group (especially infants), and an overestimate of older children. In 2009 the underestimation in the 0 – 4 age group ranges up to 4% for boys and 5% for girls. In the 15 – 17 age group, the GHSweighted data produce population numbers that are 7% higher than ASSA for boys, and 3% higher for girls. The maletofemale ratios in 2009 are in keeping with those in ASSA2008, with the exception of the 15 – 17 age group where the GHSderived ratio is higher, at 1.08, compared to 1.00 in ASSA.
§ In 2010, the GHS weights again produce an underestimation of children in the 0 – 4 age group and an overestimate of children aged 15 – 17 years. For the middle age groups, and for the child age group as a whole, there is less than 1% difference in the estimates from the two sources. For the 0 – 4 age group the underestimate is lower than previously, at 2%, but for the oldest age group there is an overestimate of 5%. The maletofemale ratios are similar across the two sources, although the ratio is 1.00 for all but the 0 – 4 age group in ASSA as against 1.01 for the youngest age group in ASSA and for all age groups in the GHS.
§ A comparison of the GHS2011 to ASSA2008 (projected to 2011) suggests an underestimation of children below two years and an overestimation of children aged 14 – 17 years in the Stats SA survey. This pattern holds for both boys and girls. The underestimation is particularly pronounced for babies under a year, at 8%. The maletofemale ratio for all children under 17 is 1.00 in ASSA, and 1.01 in the GHS.