CDP team analyzed the data on self-perceived healthy residents of cities, small towns, and rural areas in the EU for 2012 – 2022.
Self-perceived health shows how healthy the people consider themselves and it is one of the key factors of quality of life. It relates to food and water quality, ecology, sport facilities, availability and quality of medicine.
According to CDP analyses, some European cities are leaders in improving the share of people who describe themselves as “healthy”: for the last decade (2012-2022) Croatia (Zagreb) - +15%, Czechia (Praha) - +8% and Hungary (Budapest) +8%.
In cities, the proportion of those who consider themselves healthy is higher than in rural areas and small towns. But in 10 countries (Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal) the gap between cities and rural areas, small towns decrease.
This gap is narrowing most rapidly in countries with the largest share of people living in cities and towns (Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands). We consider it is a result of programs to support rural and small towns medicine and development of remote medicine.
Results of our analysis:
TOP 10 countries by the share of positive assessments of their own health by urban residents, 2022: residents of the largest cities of these countries most often assessed their health status as “very good or good”.
Interestingly, in most countries, the level of positive perception of health is higher for urban residents, than for residents of towns, suburbs or rural areas.
But there are notable exceptions that the residents of towns and suburbs or rural areas in the following countries rate their health more positively then in big cities: Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands. At the same time, in the Netherlands, both towns/suburbs and rural areas lead in positive terms compared to cities.
At the same time, over the past 10 years, the number of positive assessments of their health by residents has changed significantly not in favor of large cities in the following countries: Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal. In these countries, over the past decade, the proportion of positive self-assessment of own health in the small towns/suburbs and rural areas has been growing faster than in cities.
But so far, according to the results of 2022, the balance of positive in relation to one’s health is shifted in favor of large cities - out of 27 analyzed countries, only in 11 countries, residents of small towns/suburbs and rural areas assess their health more positively than in cities.
Will this trend continue in the future? In our opinion, the issue is especially relevant for countries with a high level of urbanization (a high level of population living in cities).
Opinions of residents of large cities regarding their health are polarized.
In most countries (20 from 27), the proportion of the urban population negatively evaluating their health increased. Among the countries in which the big cities population have become worse in self-assessing of health, countries with the highest level of urbanization in Europe- Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden.
At the end of 2022, the cities of the listed above countries were not included in the TOP 10 in terms of the level of positive self-assessment of health by city residents. Moreover, the Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands received a larger increase in positive ratings from small towns/suburban and rural dwellers than from the urban population of the big cities.
At the same time, the number of positive self-assessments of health by urban residents big cities also increased (24 out of 27). The countries with a low percentage of the population living in cities became leaders in the growth of positive among the urban population. Croatia, Czechia, Hungary became the leaders in the growth of positive ratings.
Countries with high level of urbanization were not included in the TOP 10 in terms of the increase in positive ratings.