by Judy Dutton
I live in New York City, and with a growing family, my husband and I fantasize regularly about moving to the country -- this amazing, mythic place where our daughter could go to bed listening to crickets rather than car horns, play in the grass rather than on hard asphalt… ahhh. And yet, here we sit, in our crumby, cramped apartment. It turns out we may subconsciously know what's good for us: A lot of science says there are many advantages to raising kids in the city. Here are seven reasons that make me glad I'm raising a city kid.
- Kids are safer in cities than in the sticks. Surprise, surprise! All those rumors you've heard about muggings on street corners just isn't true, at least not anymore. According to one recent study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, U.S. cities are safer than the country. In fact, risk of injury or death is more than 20 percent higher in the sticks than in urban areas.
- City kids are smarter than country bumpkins. Cities draw the best and brightest, which is why another study conducted at the University of Helsinki found that families in cities have higher intelligence scores than those who remain in more natural surroundings. People in rural areas scored in the 46th percentile for cognitive ability, while those in cities scored in the 52nd percentile.
- City kids are healthier. Research in the Journal of Rural Health of over 8,800 Americans found that people living in the country are one-fifth more likely to be obese compared to urban dwellers. Study authors theorize that country folks eat more high-fat food, and are more isolated. That means less walking and more car rides -- plus if the closest gym is an hour-long drive away, no wonder they never go.
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- Urban kids do less drugs. Don't believe the pill-popping scene on Gossip Girl. A study by the University of Kentucky found that teenagers in cities are less likely to abuse prescription drugs like painkillers and tranquilizers. Of the 17,872 teens polled, only 10 percent of city dwellers admitted to recreational prescription drug use, compared to 13 percent of country kids.
- Your teenagers probably won't end up pregnant. A recent report found that city kids are less likely to get pregnant: Births among girls aged 15 to 19 in rural counties was 43 per 1,000 -- nearly one third higher than for metropolitan ones (33 per 1,000).
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- Your kids will live longer. Perhaps due to all these commendable lifestyle habits above, city kids live longer than their rural peers. According to research in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, people in cities have a higher life expectancy of 79.1 years, compared to 76.9 years in small urban towns and 76.7 years in rural areas.
Are you raising a country kid or a city kid?
Image © Max Wanger/Corbis