Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Population of
Honolulu rising,
unlike most cities

Also atypically, poverty rates
have dropped and violent
crime remains low

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- Urban Honolulu is bucking the trend in American cities by growing in population over the last 20 years and by dealing effectively with most "urban" problems, according to a new report.

The report, touted as a first-ever compilation of social and health statistics for the nation's 100 biggest cities and their suburbs, found that unlike the typical urban area, the population of urban Honolulu has risen, to 395,789 in 1998.

At the same time, such social indicators as poverty rates and the incidence of AIDS and syphilis have dropped. And violent crime in the city, although it has increased slightly (the report does not include more recent figures, which show the crime rate dropping), remains low for an American city.

"Honolulu has been able to confront many of the social and health challenges that other cities continue to struggle with," stated the report, prepared by the National Public Health and Hospital Institute.

"While other urban areas continue to struggle with high poverty rates and a migration of younger, more affluent residents to the suburbs, Honolulu has experienced the opposite trend."

The report uses the Census Bureau's definition of urban Honolulu as the area stretching from the airport on the west to Makapuu Point on the east, and from the beach on the south to the Koolau mountain range on the north.

Nationally, the report found that suburban areas in general are facing many of the same problems as urban areas -- crime, diseases, poverty -- and suggested social and health services planners must be aware of the similarities.

The report "makes obsolete many of the assumptions that see only cities getting worse and the suburbs as refuges," said the report's author, Dr. Dennis Andrulis, former president of the PHHI.

In many ways, however, those cautions do not apply to Honolulu, since the local government and services cover both urban Honolulu and what the Census Bureau considers the suburbs.

Perhaps because of that, the regions counted as Honolulu's city and suburbs were similar. The urban area had a slightly lower unemployment rate and slightly higher poverty rate, while the suburban area had a slightly higher number of low birth weight infants, a larger growth rate and a slightly lower infant mortality rate.


Highlights of a report by the National Public Health and Hospital Institute:

Bullet SOCIAL: Unlike other urban areas, the population of urban Honolulu has risen. At the same time, social indicators such as poverty rates and incidence of AIDS and syphilis have dropped.

Bullet CRIME: Honolulu's violent crime rate in 1996 was 312 crimes per 100,000 residents, the second lowest of the 100 cities. Its murder rate, 3.08 per 100,000, was the fourth lowest.

Bullet CHILDREN: The city was ranked fourth overall on the "child deprivation" scale, and sixth on the "child welfare" scale. The two scales measure slightly different aspects of child welfare.

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