More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and the number is increasing in developed and developing nations. In the United States, about 80 percent of the population lives in metropolitan areas. Around the world, almost 180,000 people move into cities each day.
Over the next 15 to 20 years, many cities in Africa and Asia will double in size. Fifty years ago, China was mostly a country of rural villages; today more than 150 of its cities have a population of 1 million or more. The prediction is that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. In the developed world, cities are sprawling into suburban and even rural areas. Increasingly, cities have become centers of income inequality, housing the wealthiest and poorest sectors of the population. In many cities, deteriorating living conditions for vulnerable populations threaten the health of all. These trends will stress the public health infrastructure, health care and social services systems and society’s capacity to provide safe environments in which to live and work. The CUNY School of Public Health seeks to meet this challenge by finding new ways to make city living healthier for all.