A Foe More Than a Friend: Law and the Health of the American Urban Poor

33 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2017

See all articles by David Ray Papke

David Ray Papke

Marquette University - Law School

Elise Papke

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Date Written: January 27, 2017


Social epidemiologists insist fundamental social conditions play a large role in the health problems of the American urban poor, but these well-intentioned scholars and practitioners do not necessarily appreciate how greatly law is intertwined with those social conditions. Law helps create and maintain the urban poor’s shabby and unhealthy physical environment, and law also facilitates behaviors among the urban poor that can result in chronic health conditions. Then, too, law shapes and configures the very poverty that consigns the urban poor to the inner city with its limited social capital and political clout. Overall, law creates and perpetuates the health problems of the urban poor more than it eliminates or ameliorates them. Social epidemiologists and others concerned with improving the urban poor’s health might therefore approach law as a foe more than a friend.

Keywords: health inequity, law reform, poverty, social conditions, social epidemiology

Suggested Citation

Papke, David Ray and Papke, Elise, A Foe More Than a Friend: Law and the Health of the American Urban Poor (January 27, 2017). Fordham Urban Law Journal, (Vol. XLIV), Forthcoming ; Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 17-4. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2906821

David Ray Papke (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

Elise Papke

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee ( email )

Bolton Hall 802
3210 N. Maryland Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
United States

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