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Defining the "urban" in urbanization and health: a factor analysis approach


  • McDade, Thomas W.
  • Adair, Linda S.


Urban environments have been linked to a range of human health issues, and as the pace of urbanization accelerates, new challenges arise to characterize these environments, and to understand their positive and negative implications for health. We seek to contribute to future studies of urbanization and health by exploring multiple definitions of urbanicity in the Philippines, using data from an ongoing, longitudinal study. We use factor analysis to identify meaningful clusters of household- and community-level variables, and to generate factor scores that summarize each household's position with respect to access to infrastructure and health services, and level of affluence. Factor scores are considered for 1983 and 1994 to assess the type and pace of change that has occurred in the Philippines, and scores are compared across urban and rural areas, and across six different settlement types, to explore household- and community-level markers of urbanicity. This analysis demonstrates the heterogeneity of environments within urban and rural areas, and emphasizes the need for a finer level of investigation in future studies of urbanization and health.

Suggested Citation

  • McDade, Thomas W. & Adair, Linda S., 2001. "Defining the "urban" in urbanization and health: a factor analysis approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 55-70, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:53:y:2001:i:1:p:55-70

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-591, September.
    2. Ettner, Susan L., 1996. "New evidence on the relationship between income and health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 67-85, February.
    3. Godfrey, Leslie G & McAleer, Michael & McKenzie, Colin R, 1988. "Variable Addition and LaGrange Multiplier Tests for Linear and Logarithmic Regression Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 492-503, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Montgomery & Paul Hewett, 2005. "Urban poverty and health in developing countries: Household and neighborhood Effects," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(3), pages 397-425, August.
    2. Van de Poel, Ellen & O'Donnell, Owen & Van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2009. "Urbanization and the spread of diseases of affluence in China," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 200-216, July.
    3. Dahly, Darren L. & Adair, Linda S., 2007. "Quantifying the urban environment: A scale measure of urbanicity outperforms the urban-rural dichotomy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(7), pages 1407-1419, April.
    4. Ng, Shu Wen & Norton, Edward C. & Popkin, Barry M., 2009. "Why have physical activity levels declined among Chinese adults? Findings from the 1991-2006 China health and nutrition surveys," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1305-1314, April.
    5. Omar Fassio & Chiara Rollero & Norma Piccoli, 2013. "Health, Quality of Life and Population Density: A Preliminary Study on “Contextualized” Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 479-488, January.
    6. Monda, Keri L. & Gordon-Larsen, Penny & Stevens, June & Popkin, Barry M., 2007. "China's transition: The effect of rapid urbanization on adult occupational physical activity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 858-870, February.
    7. Jones-Smith, Jessica C. & Popkin, Barry M., 2010. "Understanding community context and adult health changes in China: Development of an urbanicity scale," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(8), pages 1436-1446, October.


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