Why do people prefer to live in cities over rural areas?

The average American is living longer, thanks in part to a long-term, lifestyle-focused health strategy known as the “five-year plan.”

But a new study suggests the effect of this strategy on the health of the country’s elderly could be temporary.

The findings suggest a different, and less effective, strategy, said David M. Weinstock, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

In a recent study, researchers at the Institute for Aging at Johns Hopkins University and the University at Buffalo, New York, asked more than 1,000 middle-aged adults whether they’d rather live in the suburbs than the city.

Researchers also looked at data on how their health would have improved over time, including whether they could work longer hours and whether they had a lower chance of developing chronic diseases.

The results, published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs, show the average American’s health has improved significantly since the mid-2000s, and that the gap between what they lived in 10 years ago and what they live in today is about the same.

“I think people have a really strong, deep appreciation for the benefits of living in urban areas,” Weinstocks said.

The researchers looked at how many people lived in rural areas compared to urban areas.

The average number of days per week a person spent in rural or suburban areas increased from 2,200 to 3,700, and the number of hours per week spent in urban or suburban communities increased from 1,600 to 1,900.

The number of people who said they would like to live outside their own city increased from about 7% to about 10%.

But the number who said their health had improved was unchanged.

“We find that the effects of these strategies on health over time are temporary,” Weinfocks said, adding that the longer-term benefits of moving to rural areas are likely to outweigh the short-term costs.

Read more about health: The New Yorker, The Economist, and The Washington Post.