Compact cities and health of the elderly in higher density cities -nation level study of Chinese cities

Authors: Yu Zhou*, Vassar College, Feixiang Sun, College of Resources Environment and Tourism, Capital Normal University
Topics: Urban Geography, Geography and Urban Health, China
Keywords: Compact city; Self-rated Health; the Elderly; Entropy methods, Urban Compact Index, Regional differences, city sizes
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 4:50 AM / 6:05 AM
Room: Virtual 16
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Studies in North American and European cities since the 2000s have found that living in compact cities led to better health outcomes for urban residents, although the gain can be small and nuanced. Studies in China have highlighted mixed health effects due to higher urban densities and prominent air pollution in the Chinese urban cores. This paper measures urban compactness through a composite index incorporating population density, land use, and transportation patterns, and studies its impact on the self-rated health of older urban residents in 278 Chinese cities. We found that compactness in Chinese cities led to gain in self-evaluations of health for the elderly, controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and environmental variables. This suggests that the benefits of compactness are present in densely populated and rapidly changing cities typical in developing countries, at least for the elderly population. As urban density declines rapidly in China and other countries with the growing prevalence of automobiles, the elderly could suffer the health consequences. We also identify the key contributing factors and strategies to improve the elderly health by regions and urban sizes and suggest policy approaches to pursue synergy of sustainability and better standards

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