The Heritage Foundation, believe it or not.

The Heritage Foundation, believe it or not.

I was in an old mill-worker tenement building today, which got me thinking about the density of human shelter around the world. I covered this subject in THE WELL DRESSED APE, but am too cozy to venture into the frosty attic to retrieve the relevant research paper. So here is someone else’s graphic of how many square feet we humans inhabit, in various parts of the world.

How big is 65.5 square feet? One king-size bed plus a twin.



City Slickers not sicker than Country Bumpkins? Image: CDC

City Slickers not sicker than Country Bumpkins? Image: CDC

When did life in the country become so bad for you? A recent study by the CDC found that rural dwellers are more likely to have a chronic and serious health condition than are city folk.

That’s crazy! Remember when cities were cauldrons of smog, and doctors prescribed a trip to the country to clear the lungs? OK, neither do I. But I’ve read that such things happened.

The CDC’s 2103 health survey of people 45 and older found otherwise. Or at least it found that something worse than diesel bus fumes is hitting country dwellers where they live. The diseases in question: hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, hepatitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), weak or failing kidneys during the past 12 months, currently having asthma.

Here’s the great news, though: Rural living really isn’t that much worse than urban living.

Here’s the horrible news: Only 28% of Americans 45 or older, city and country combined, was free of all ten conditions! Forty-two percent of Americans had two! 

Wait. I just noticed arthritis in there. Seriously? Now I feel this is way less alarming. Now I’m surprised that 28% of Americans older than 45 don’t have arthritis.

Anyway, I bet if you mapped income or education across the same area, you’d find a powerful hint: Where you live isn’t as important as how you live.