Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 79, Supplement 1, pp S1–S12 | Cite as

Urbanization, urbanicity, and health

  • David Vlahov
  • Sandro Galea


A majority of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2007. The most rapidly urbanizing cities are in less-wealthy nations, and the pace of growth varies among regions. There are few data linking features of cities to the health of populations. We suggest a framework to guide inquiry into features of the urban environment that affect health and well-being. We consider two key dimensions: urbanization and urbanicity. Urbanization refers to change in size, density, and heterogeneity of cities. Urbanicity refers to the impact of living in urban areas at a given time. A review of the published literature suggests that most of the important factors that affect health can be considered within three broad themes: the social environment, the physical environment, and access to health and social services. The development of urban health as a discipline will need to draw on the strengths of diverse academic areas of study (e.g., ecology, epidemiology, sociology). Cross-national research may provide insights about the key features of cities and how urbanization influences population health.


Public Health Urban Area Social Service Physical Environment Social Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Vlahov
    • 1
  • Sandro Galea
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Urban Epidemiologic StudiesNew York Academy of MedicineNew York

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