Urbanization, Socioeconomic Status and Health in China

Jia Miao, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Xiaogang Wu, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

It is well documented that socioeconomic status (SES) is positively associated with health, but how this relationship varies with urbanization level is less clear. Using panel data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey in 1997-2011, this paper compares two competing theories of the confounding effects of urbanization on the SES-health relationship. Empirical evidence from logistic regression and random effects estimation suggests three main conclusions. First, the positive link between income and health is moderated by urbanization. The protective role of education on maintaining health becomes more prominent in more urbanized areas. Second, lifestyle is the pathway through which urbanization affects health. A high-fat diet and decreased physical activity influence the SES-health relationship and increase health risks in more urbanized areas. Third, vulnerability to the effects of urbanization shows a gender difference. The influence of urbanization on the SES-health relationship is more persistent among females than males.

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Presented in Session 145: Urbanization in Global Perspective