According to an article in today’s NY Times, NYC is ‘healthier’ than the nation. That may not seem shocking to people that associate NYC with Manhattan, but NYC also includes all the outer lying boroughs. That’s quite an accomplishment when just north of 125th street is the largest population, per density, of obesity and diabetes. So, while I fully note the stamina it requires to mount the subway stairs, speed-walk across major intersections, there must be other explanations than those cited by the author, ‘less gun ownership’ and ‘less car accidents’ from residents that rely on mass transit. The first thing that comes to my mind is that proximity to hospitals means lower mortality statistics in cities, as opposed to the distance to rural health facitilites, so it is likely that several cities are ‘healthier’ than the national average.
NYC is a melting pot, with more products sold for increasing immigrant populations. Often that means more fresh produce and, in a stagnant economy, beans and rice become a staple in every home, even those that can trace their ancestors back to the Mayflower. In my suburb, I can count on one hand the grocers that stock plantains, but near my office, they can be found at every bodega, or street cart vendor, all evidence of healthy dietary offerings. Before we celebrate, however, we should not disregard the impact of age.
For the elderly in a rent controlled apartment, failed health likely means a move to the retirement facility, often out of the city or state. Her landlord, unencumbered by Rent Control, will charge whatever the market will bear for her prime Gramercy park apartment, to someone younger [read: healthier] as it will not be affordable for many on a fixed income. In addition, shrinking corporate tax revenue has increased the taxes levied on residents, making it unaffordable for retirees.
The critical factor in the depression in the housing market, is that it has an inverse affect on the rental market, which comprises most of NYC residences. Contrary to prices in home sales, the rental market climbs as home seekers no longer qualify for mortgages with higher down payment and asset requirements. It is the younger median age of NYC dwellers that likely accounts for the ‘health’ statistic reported. From my perspective, seemingly “better health” at the expense of unaffordable housing, for young and old, is not something to cheer about.