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The Future of Population Health
Centennial Issue Population Health
Dave A. Chokshi
May 26, 2023
May 2, 2023
Apr 25, 2023
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Most of the world’s population lives in cities. More than 56% of people lived in urban areas in 2020, while only 29% did in 1950. This proportion is significantly higher in Europe and North America, where 75% and 84% of the population, respectively, is urban.1 By 2050, nearly 70% of people globally will live in cities.2
The health of urban populations is dramatically influenced by the urban context, including its social, economic, environmental, and political conditions, in both positive and negative ways.3,4 Socially, the geographic concentration and colocation of people facilitate the formation of health-promoting social networks, while poor sanitation and high crime rates in population-dense areas feed the spread of communicable disease and physical injury. Economically, cities produce 80% of global gross domestic product, offering attractive employment prospects and elevating living standards but distributing both opportunities and gains from production unevenly, which drives urban poverty and growing inequality. Environmentally, robust transportation makes the workplaces and amenities of cities more accessible but contributes to air and noise pollution and rising carbon emissions, exacerbating associated health risks and climate change. Politically, opportunities for participatory democracy and community-level self-determination are often constrained by systematic disenfranchisement of marginalized populations and municipal corruption. The interplay of these complex factors occurs in the background of evolving challenges in health and medicine, ranging from aging populations and growing health care expenditures to novel pathogens and global pandemics.
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.