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Glasgow's High Mortality Rate and a History of Poor Planning

Decades of poor urban planning and policy decisions have contributed to "the Glasgow Effect," which has seen higher rates of mortality for Glaswegians compared to similar de-industrialized cities.
June 27, 2016, 5am PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Ramsay Thomson

Researchers have tied the high rates of mortality for Glaswegians under the age of 65 to decades of poor planning and policy decisions, reports Karin Goodwin of The Guardian. "The Glasgow Effect," as labelled by researchers, has seen a 30 percent higher risk of dying below the age of 65 from the typical causes of cancer and heart disease, as well as the despair diseases of alcoholism and suicide.

The cause of the higher rate of mortality among residents of Glasgow has roots in the policy and planning decisions from the '60s, '70s, and '80s that shifted portions of the population—primarily younger workers and their families—to new towns on the outskirts of the city leaving the poor and elderly in Glasgow's center in high rise housing and peripheral estates.

The schemes of modern Glasgow are often desolate and surrounded by vacant land: 91% of people in Springburn (pdf)– in the north of the city – live 500 metres from vacant or derelict land; Maryhill – in the west – it’s 85%; and in Shettleston – the east – 74%.

This could be having serious effects; earlier this year a statistical analysis of Glasgow (pdf) by Juliana Maantay and Andrew Maroko of City University of New York (CUNY), found a link between poor mental health and the proximity to vacant or derelict link. They also found the effect was lessened when communities had a role in the urban planning process.

Goodwin reports that the tide may be turning in terms of political will to fix the planning mistakes of the past, thanks to new leadership from the Scottish National Party (SNP). However, challenges remain to actually fund the change required to turn around Glasgow's high mortality rate.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, June 10, 2016 in The Guardian (UK)
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