Improving the health and welfare of people who live in slums

Elsevier, The Lancet, February 2017

Summary

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. We build on this spatial concept of slums to argue that, in all low-income and-middle-income countries, census tracts should henceforth be designated slum or non-slum both to inform local policy and as the basis for research surveys that build on censuses. We argue that slum health should be promoted as a topic of enquiry alongside poverty and health.