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Written by - Pratyakshi Anand

Overcrowding or crowding is typically characterised as the presence of too many people in the available space and facilities. Overcrowding can occur on a temporary or daily basis, at home, in public spaces or in public transport. It can affect all sections of the population, both directly and indirectly. The definition and measurement of overcrowding differs greatly between continents, nations, regions and communities, and depends on various factors such as cultural , social , economic, geographical etc.

Health effects:

● Disease vulnerability, disease incidence, disease transmission and disease mortality all increase as a result of social and physical overcrowding.

● Overcrowding amplifies health risks caused by inadequate water supply and poor sanitation systems.

● Home and neighbourhood accidents are more likely to occur.

● Crowded household unables care for sick family members.

● Lack of space has a direct effect on physical and psychological growth.

● Prevents people from resting and sleeping properly in their own homes

Social effects:

● Overcrowding places a strain on social relations within the home and community.

● Overcrowding in schools and homes is linked to substandard education and illiteracy.

● It may be linked to increased child labour and early marriage (especially for girls) which, in turn, leads to serious health and social risks for women and children.

● Overcrowding affects women and dependent's access to social and economic resources.

Psychological effects:

● Direct and indirect psychological effects result from overcrowding:

● Overcrowding leads to psychological distress, which, in turn, has an effect on behavioural responses and the ability to cope with the conditions.

● Lack of privacy is linked to depression and other negative psychological consequences.

● Crowded household does not allow children or dependents to receive care they may require.

Economical effects:

● Large households with a high proportion of dependents, whether children or older family members, are more likely to be crowded.

● Crowding is a form of social stress which may gradually accumulate and eventually affect task performance.

● Employment in a nation like India for an enormous population is very challenging due to the number of illiterate persons increasing every year, economic depression and slow business development and expansion activities.

● The slow pace of infrastructural growth can not be matched with the rise in population resulting in the lack of transportation, connectivity, housing, education , health, slums, overcrowded housing and congestion.

● Overexploitation and scarcity of resources.

● Inflation: decreased production and increased costs.

● Unequal distribution of income and inequalities within the country.

Crowding and Slums

Slum areas are, by definition, communities characterised by structurally inadequate or unsafe housing, lack of access to adequate services, such as clean drinking water and sanitation, and are characterised by tenure insecurity and overcrowding. Slums are more likely to be located in areas with other environmental threats, such as flood plains, mountain slopes prone to mudslides, or in the proximity of waste dumps or heavy industry. In 2011 , the total population living in slums in India increased to 65.5 million. This amounted to 17.4% of the urban population of the states. Population as such is continually lacking in a safe and healthy environment. Inadequate shelter and overcrowding are major factors for populations when transmitting diseases with epidemic potential such as acute respiratory infections, meningitis, typhus, cholera, scabies, etc. Disease outbreaks are more frequent and more serious when the density of the population is high.

Crowding and Social conflicts

The social level conflicts arise often due to the proximity that inevitably produces certain kinds of intrusions or annoyances among the households that share the space. Intrusions may take the form of noises, smells, or visually observable messes, lack of privacy, and lack of playgrounds or parks. The conflicts between kids often create conflicts between their parents. A main element of subjective overcrowding is the feeling of loss of privacy, including the feeling that there is no control over the access of others to information about themselves and their lives.

Crowding and Children

A variety of studies have shown that crowding(at home or schools) for children can be disruptive and cause behavioural issues, hyperactive and/or violent behaviour, low academic performance, elevated blood pressure, and impaired parent‐child interpersonal relationships. It can also cause social divergence and heightened vulnerability to the induction of learned helplessness. The risk to infectious children, especially for those sharing a bed, childhood behaviour and child accidents and mortality, has been related to crowded housing.

Often the demands of a crowded household mean that girls are often taken out of school to support their mothers in the home. Burden parents tend to push their daughters in early marriage. On the contrary, boys have more freedom, however, their schooling is also jeopardized. And they have work to support their house.

Crowding and Women

Studies show that crowding is especially stressful for women, leading to poor social relations, poor childcare, violence or withdrawal. There is substantial evidence that women with young children living in high-density households are more likely to be unhappy with their wellbeing. Also they can find it difficult to regulate the optimal amount of social contact with other household members and that this has implications for their psychological health. Crowding also affects sexual behaviour between couples.

Crowding and Disabled

Disabled people are not able to move around in or outside their homes. Overcrowding in the home means that the caretaker is not able to properly attend to the needs of the disabled one. Schools do not have enough resources for the blind or deaf. Space in homes are too constrained to build large enough to accommodate facilities for disabled members of the family.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

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