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      Breaking Down and Building Up: Gentrification, Its drivers, and Urban Health Inequality


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          Purpose of Review

          Many neighborhoods which have been unjustly impacted by histories of uneven urban development, resulting in socioeconomic and racial segregation, are now at risk for gentrification. As urban renewal projects lead to improvements in the long-neglected built environments of such neighborhoods, accompanying gentrification processes may lead to the displacement of or exclusion of underprivileged residents from benefiting from new amenities and improvements. In addition, gentrification processes may be instigated by various drivers. We aimed to discuss the implications of specific types of gentrification, by driver, for health equity.

          Recent Findings

          Several recent articles find differential effects of gentrification on the health of underprivileged residents of gentrifying neighborhoods compared to those with greater privilege (where sociodemographic dimensions such as race or socioeconomic status are used as a proxy for privilege). Generally, studies show that gentrification may be beneficial for the health of more privileged residents while harming or not benefiting the health of underprivileged residents. Very recent articles have begun to test hypothesized pathways by which urban renewal indicators, gentrification, and health equity are linked. Few public health articles to date are designed to detect distinct impacts of specific drivers of gentrification.


          Using a case example, we hypothesize how distinct drivers of gentrification—specifically, retail gentrification, environmental gentrification, climate gentrification, studentification, tourism gentrification, and health care gentrification—may imply specific pathways toward reduced health equity. Finally, we discuss the challenges faced by researchers in assessing the health impacts of gentrification.

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          Most cited references64

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          Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: evidence and interventions

          The Lancet, 389(10077), 1453-1463
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            STRUCTURAL RACISM AND HEALTH INEQUITIES: Old Issues, New Directions.

            Racial minorities bear a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality. These inequities might be explained by racism, given the fact that racism has restricted the lives of racial minorities and immigrants throughout history. Recent studies have documented that individuals who report experiencing racism have greater rates of illnesses. While this body of research has been invaluable in advancing knowledge on health inequities, it still locates the experiences of racism at the individual level. Yet, the health of social groups is likely most strongly affected by structural, rather than individual, phenomena. The structural forms of racism and their relationship to health inequities remain under-studied. This article reviews several ways of conceptualizing structural racism, with a focus on social segregation, immigration policy, and intergenerational effects. Studies of disparities should more seriously consider the multiple dimensions of structural racism as fundamental causes of health disparities.
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              The COVID-19 pandemic: Impacts on cities and major lessons for urban planning, design, and management

              Since the early days of the COVID-19 crisis the scientific community has constantly been striving to shed light on various issues such as the mechanisms driving the spread of the virus, its environmental and socio-economic impacts, and necessary recovery and adaptation plans and policies. Given the high concentration of population and economic activities in cities, they are often hotspots of COVID-19 infections. Accordingly, many researchers are struggling to explore the dynamics of the pandemic in urban areas to understand impacts of COVID-19 on cities. In this study we seek to provide an overview of COVID-19 research related to cities by reviewing literature published during the first eight months after the first confirmed cases were reported in Wuhan, China. The main aims are to understand impacts of the pandemic on cities and to highlight major lessons that can be learned for post-COVID urban planning and design. Results show that, in terms of thematic focus, early research on the impacts of COVID-19 on cities is mainly related to four major themes, namely, (1) environmental quality, (2) socio-economic impacts, (3) management and governance, and (4) transportation and urban design. While this indicates a diverse research agenda, the first theme that is consisted of issues related to air quality, meteorological parameters, and water quality is dominant, and the others are still relatively underexplored. Improvements in air and water quality in cities during lockdown periods highlight the significant environmental impacts of anthropogenic activities and provide a wake-up call to adopt environmentally friendly development pathways. The paper also provides other recommendation related to the socio-economic factors, urban management and governance, and transportation and urban design that can be used for post-COVID urban planning and design. Overall, existing knowledge shows that the COVID-19 crisis entails an excellent opportunity for planners and policy makers to take transformative actions towards creating cities that are more just, resilient, and sustainable.

                Author and article information

                Curr Environ Health Rep
                Curr Environ Health Rep
                Current Environmental Health Reports
                Springer International Publishing (Cham )
                13 March 2021
                : 1-10
                [1 ]GRID grid.7080.f, Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability (BCNUEJ), Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), , Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the Medical Research Institute of the Hospital del Mar (IMIM), ; C/ Doctor Aiguader, 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
                [2 ]GRID grid.214458.e, ISNI 0000000086837370, School of Public Health, , University of Michigan, ; Ann Arbor, USA
                [3 ]GRID grid.7159.a, ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0239, Public Health and Epidemiology Research Group, , Universidad de Alcalá, ; Alcalá de Henares, Spain
                Author information
                © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

                : 3 March 2021
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000781, European Research Council;
                Award ID: 678034
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100007136, Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación;
                Award ID: FJCI-2017-33842
                Award ID: IJC-2018-035322-I
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100010665, H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions;
                Award ID: 842957
                Award Recipient :
                Built Environment and Health (MJ Nieuwenhuijsen and AJ de Nazelle, Section Editors)

                health equity,gentrification,urban renewal,studentification,touristification,urban health


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