Working Paper
Health and the Urban Transition

Effects of Household Perceptions, Illness, and Environmental Pollution on Clean Water Investment

Recent efforts to reinvigorate the connections between urban planning and health have usefully brought the field back to one of its original roles. Current research, however, has focused on industrialized cities, overlooking some of the important urbanization processes in poor countries. This paper describes an emerging 'health transition' and the importance of socio-ecological approaches to understanding new health challenges in the developing world and uses the empirical case of Vietnam to examine the development dilemma of new industrial health concerns associated with economic development. The paper summarizes original qualitative data suggesting that one of the main benefits and rationales of the system is the improvement in public health that it has promoted. Using a related original sample survey (n=200) from 2005, the paper then tests a set of hypotheses about the relationship between illness, connections to the new system, and the role of pollution of natural water sources in illness. Findings suggest that fears of illness, and in particular new forms of industrial illnesses, are growing with rapid development as old forms of acute water borne disease are of less concern.