Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 495–512 | Cite as

Housing quality as environmental inequality: the case of Wallonia, Belgium

  • Zoé LejeuneEmail author
  • Guillaume Xhignesse
  • Marko Kryvobokov
  • Jacques Teller


First in the USA and then in many other countries, scholarship on environmental inequality has sought to shed light on the unequal environmental conditions borne by poor people and ethnic minorities, and to challenge public policies and their unjust impacts on those target groups. Housing quality, especially the indoor characteristics of homes, offers an innovative perspective in this field of research. In previous research on environmental inequality in the Walloon context, housing quality has been proven to be a major determinant of quality of life and environmental well-being. This paper analyses housing quality through a twofold approach: indoor characteristics on the one hand, and outdoor subjective and objective externalities on the other. It reveals the disparities between the most deprived and the wealthiest segments of the population. The evidence for this study is based on a housing quality survey carried out in 2012 and 2013 on 6018 households in Wallonia (Belgium). The key findings are that poor people are found to live in housing of lower quality, in densely populated neighbourhoods and those with mixed use, with compensating amenities provided at the local level. Moreover, consistent with environmental inequality scholarship, deprived households are found to bear the burden of environmental degradation outside the home. People live in areas with poorer air quality, but are found to benefit from greater access to green spaces. The results of the survey reveal an interesting point concerning the environmental inequality literature; the interior features of housing are found to differ more widely between deprived and wealthier people than the surrounding environment does.


Environmental inequality Housing conditions Spatial discrepancies Wallonia, Belgium 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zoé Lejeune
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guillaume Xhignesse
    • 2
  • Marko Kryvobokov
    • 3
  • Jacques Teller
    • 4
  1. 1.Political Science - University of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.HEC Management School – University of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  3. 3.Centre for Sustainable Housing Studies (CEHD)CharleroiBelgium
  4. 4.University of Liège, LEMA-ArGenCoLiègeBelgium

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