Suburbs Grow in Population While Cities Get Younger

Dissemination of a chartbook on urban/suburban social and health indicators

Between 1996 and 2000, the National Public Health and Hospital Institute, Washington, and the New York Academy of Medicine, New York, developed and disseminated a report comparing the social health status of people living in the nation's 100 largest cities with those living in the surrounding suburbs.

It built upon a 1995 project (see Program Results Report on ID# 022724) profiling similar data for cities alone.

Key Findings

  • Researchers at the National Public Health and Hospital Institute published The Social and Health Landscape of Urban and Suburban America in 1999. The findings included:

    • Population growth in suburbs surpassed growth in central cities, but cities have greater rates of increase in the proportion of the population that is very young.
    • Many cities have reduced rates of tuberculosis, syphilis, and AIDS since the 1995 study.
    • A significant association of child poverty and low birth weight with violence and minority female-headed households was found in cities but not in counties.
    • Suburbs increasingly have the diversity of black, Hispanic, and foreign-born populations once attributed only to cities.
    • Central cities generally led their counties in either reducing or holding steady violent crime rates.
    • There was a significant drop in hospital discharges and a moderate decline in emergency room use in the 1990s for central city public hospitals, and a surge in discharges in for-profit hospitals in both cities and suburbs.
    • Community health centers continued to focus on vulnerable populations, and local urban health departments offered a broad range of critical screening services.

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