Special Perspectives

Health and Urban Living

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Science  08 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5864, pp. 766-769
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150198

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Abstract

The majority of people now live in urban areas and will do so for the foreseeable future. As a force in the demographic and health transition, urbanization is associated with falling birth and death rates and with the shift in burden of illness from acute childhood infections to chronic, noncommunicable diseases of adults. Urban inhabitants enjoy better health on average than their rural counterparts, but the benefits are usually greater for the rich than for the poor, thus magnifying the differences between them. Subject to better evidence, I suggest that the main obstacles to improving urban health are not technical or even financial, but rather are related to governance and the organization of civil society.

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