Income and Health in Cities: The Messages from Stylized Facts

Journal of Urban Health, Vol. 84 (S1), pp. 35–41, 2007

Posted: 9 Oct 2009

See all articles by Shahid Yusuf

Shahid Yusuf

World Bank

Kaoru Nabeshima

World Bank

Wei Ha

United Nations - Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

The benefits of good health to individuals and to society are strongly positive, and improving the health of the poor is a key millennium development goal (MDG). A typical health strategy advocated by some calls for increased public spending on health targeted to favor the poor backed by foreign assistance, combined with an international effort to perfect drugs and vaccines to ameliorate the major infectious diseases prevalent in developing nations. However, if the objective is better health outcomes at the least cost and a reduction in urban health inequity, our research suggests that the four most potent policy interventions are: improving access to clean water and sanitation; widely available primary care and health programs aimed at influencing diets and lifestyles; raising the level of education; and better urban land use and transport planning which contains urban sprawl and minimizes the trend towards sedentary living habits. The payoff from these four, in terms of health outcomes especially for those in low-income categories, dwarfs the returns from new drugs and curative hospital-based medicine, although these certainly have their place in a modern urban health system. We find, moreover, that the resource requirements for successful health care policies are likely to depend on an acceleration of economic growth rates, which increase household purchasing power and enlarge the pool of resources available to national and subnational governments to invest in and maintain health-related infrastructure and services. Thus, an acceleration of growth rates may be necessary to sustain a viable urban health strategy, which is equitable, and to ensure steady gains in health outcomes.

Keywords: cities, growth, health, income, sanitation, water

JEL Classification: H44, I12

Suggested Citation

Yusuf, Shahid and Nabeshima, Kaoru and Ha, Wei, Income and Health in Cities: The Messages from Stylized Facts (2007). Journal of Urban Health, Vol. 84 (S1), pp. 35–41, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1484654

Shahid Yusuf

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Kaoru Nabeshima

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Wei Ha (Contact Author)

United Nations - Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office ( email )

United Nations complex Gigiri
P.O. Box 44145
Nairobi, 00100
Kenya

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