We know that there are 7.9 billion people in the world, but where do they all live? How many houses are there in the world, how many people live in each house, and home many people are homeless?

How many houses are in the world?

As of 2021, there are somewhere in the vicinity of 2.3 billion houses in the world.

australian house

What is considered a house?

Before we work out how many houses in the world, we must define our terms. While the Macquarie Dictionary defines a house as “a building for people to live in, usually one which is self-contained and designed for a single family”, for the purposes of this article we broaden the concept to include all types of buildings (including apartment blocks) in which people live, apart from collective living quarters, such as hotels, rooming houses and other lodging houses, institutions, and camps.
This definition is in line with the definition used by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Statistics Division. The figures in this article are from that organisation’s “Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses Revision 2”, which was published in 2011.

housing development aerial

How does the total number of houses relate to the total number of people in the world?

Our figure of 2.3 billion houses is an estimate that relies on census figures taken from around the world over the past 20 years or so. Our final figure has been adjusted to account for population growth since each of the figures was taken.

While it aligns with population, it also relies on household size. Smaller household size means more houses. As we shall see later in this article, the relatively new phenomenon of household sizes in western nations getting smaller means the number of houses is rising faster than the rate of population increase.

prefabricated modular house

Which countries and continents have the most houses? 

The most populous country in the world is China (population 1.44 billion). As one might expect, China also has the largest number of houses (roughly 658 million). At the other end of the scale, small countries like Bermuda and Liechtenstein also have the smallest number of houses (28,314 and 16,700, respectively).

In terms of continents and regions, the number of houses are as follows: Africa - 260 million houses; Asia - 1.3 billion houses; Australasia - 13 million houses; The Caribbean - 12 million houses; Central America - 43 million houses; Europe - 242 million houses; the Middle East - 34 million houses; North America - 148 million houses; and South America: - 125 million houses.

timber house asia

Which countries have the largest households?

This is an important point. While the number of houses does correlate with the population of each country, that relationship is far from exact. It depends on things like wealth, family size, and the presence of extended families within the one household. These factors vary city by city, and across the world.

Considering all these factors, the countries with the smallest household sizes (10 out of the top 11) are European countries. Germany had the smallest households of any country (just 2.05 people per household).

apartment complex asia

Meanwhile at the other end of the scale, the top ten countries with the largest households were mainly from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The country with the largest households was Senegal with 8.66 people per household.

clay house

How many houses are there in Australia?

How does Australia compare with the rest of the world? According to the figures, which were taken from the 2011 census, Australia had a population of just over 25.5 million. Our average household size was quite small at 2.5 and we had about 10.2 million houses.

To drill down a bit further, in 2011, 24% of our households included just one person, 50% included 2-3 people, 22% included 4-5 people, and 3% of households included six or more people.


How many people in the world are homeless?

Of course, not everyone is lucky to be included in these statistics. According to a 2005 report by the United Nations, an estimated 100 million people around the world were homeless. 78 million of those were in India alone.

These figures could be even higher depending on the definition of homelessness that is used. For example, here in Australia homelessness is defined as including not just those living on the street, but also anybody who is living in unsafe and unsecure accommodation, or those who don’t know where they will be living from week to week or in a month’s time.

Some estimates suggest that if this type of definition were used on a worldwide scale, the rate of homelessness could be more like 1. 5 billion people. In other words, we need to build more.

house on rock