Poverty Areas

Massive slums have become major features of cities in many low-income and middle-income countries. Here, in the first in a Series of two papers, we discuss why slums are unhealthy places with especially high risks of infection and injury. We show that children are especially vulnerable, and that the combination of malnutrition and recurrent diarrhoea leads to stunted growth and longer-term effects on cognitive development. We find that the scientific literature on slum health is underdeveloped in comparison to urban health, and poverty and health.
In the first paper in this Series we assessed theoretical and empirical evidence and concluded that the health of people living in slums is a function not only of poverty but of intimately shared physical and social environments. In this paper we extend the theory of so-called neighbourhood effects. Slums offer high returns on investment because beneficial effects are shared across many people in densely populated neighbourhoods. Neighbourhood effects also help explain how and why the benefits of interventions vary between slum and non-slum spaces and between slums.