Health Inequality in China with its Rapid Socioeconomic and Demographic Change

Health Inequality in China with its Rapid Socioeconomic and Demographic Change

In the past forty years, China has experienced drastic socioeconomic and demographic changes. Great improvement has been made in population health with the rapid economic growth and lifted average living standard, but disparities still persist between urban and rural areas and between the sexes. Differences exist in longevity, causes of death, accessibility of health services, and availability of health insurance programmes. Understanding the degree and determinants of health inequality is of key importance for future resource distribution and for helping the laggards to catchup. However, there is only a small body of literature in the context of China and even less has attempted to quantify and explain the health inequality on a subnational level. This PhD research aims to measure and explain the subnational health inequality in China: health inequality is estimated with several different indicators of health and both the with-in group and between-group inequalities are taken into consideration; the major determinants of health inequality will be identified under a multilevel framework. The study has three analytical chapters and uses data from the Chinese Disease Surveillance Points (DSP) 2006-2016, the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS) 2005-2014, and the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) to analyse the inequality in the length and quality of life at the subnational level, to depict the trajectory of inequality over the last fifteen years, and to identify the major socioeconomic determinants of such inequality. Research progress on measuring the subnational health inequality and depicting its trajectory over time will be reported in this seminar. Current findings suggest that the urban-rural gap in life expectancy and lifespan disparity is gradually shrinking in recent years while the gender gap remains large, but in terms of healthy life expectancy at old ages, the rural residents did not enjoy as much improvement as their urban counterparts.

Mengxue Chen is a PhD candidate in the School of Demography at the ANU. She holds a Master’s degree from London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc in Population and Development) and two Bachelor’s degrees in Economics from University of Groningen and Fudan University. Her current research interests focus on measuring the health inequality between different population groups, and identifying the intermediate and proximate determinants of health inequality.



Date & time

Tue 01 Sep 2020, 2:30pm to 3:30pm


By Zoom (ID: 915 1095 6787 PW: 659951)


Mengxue Chen, PhD Candidate, School of Demography, ANU


Susan Cowan


Updated:  25 August 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications