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Type Journal Article - Social Science & Medicine
Title Internal migration, urban living, and non-communicable disease risk in South Africa
Volume 274
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2021
Page numbers 113-785
This paper offers theoretical and substantive contributions to migration-health scholarship by employing rich panel data with biomarkers to estimate the effect of migration and urban living on non-communicable disease risk in South Africa. Internal migration and urbanization continue to be pervasive demographic and socio-economic phenomena that structure daily life in low– and middle– income countries (LMICs). Yet, how these processes affect illness and disease in low-resource settings is still not well understood. Five waves (2008–2017) of South Africa's National Income Dynamics Study data and fixed-effects modeling are used to estimate the relationship between urban residence, migration, and health. Results indicate that the migration-health relationship differs by gender: urban living for men is associated with lower blood pressure. While urban residence appears to convey a health advantage when men reside in urban compared with rural places, there is no evidence of an urban health advantage among women. Migration does, however, negatively affect women's health through higher blood pressure (BP). These findings highlight the need for further interrogation of the ways in which processes and health consequences of migration and urban living are structured by gender in LMICs. Given the importance of urbanization and the prevalence of migration in LMICs, the gendered determinants of blood pressure may be key to understanding rising hypertension incidence in contexts like South Africa.

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