Health Outcomes and Socio-Economic Status Among the Elderly in China

Evidence from the CHARLS Pilot

Published in: Journal of Population Ageing, v. 3, no. 3, Dec. 2010, p. 111-142

Posted on RAND.org on February 17, 2016

by John Strauss, Xiaoyan Lei, Albert Park, Yan Shen, James P. Smith, Zhe Yang, Yaohui Zhao

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We are concerned in this paper with measuring health outcomes among the elderly in Zhejiang and Gansu provinces, China, and examining the relationships between different dimensions of health status and measures of socio-economic status (SES). We are CHARLS pilot data to document health conditions, using a very rich set of health indicators that include both self-reported measures and biomarkers. We also examine correlations between these health outcomes and two important indicators of socio-economic status (SES): education and log of per capita expenditure (log pce), our preferred measure of household resources. In general education tends to be positively correlated with better health outcomes, as it is in other countries. However, unmeasured community influences turn out to be highly important, much more so than one usually finds in other countries. While it is not yet clear which aspects of communities matter and why they matter, we set up an agenda for future research on this topic. We also find a large degree of under-diagnosis of hypertension, a major health problems that afflicts the aged. This implies that the current health system is not well prepared to address the rapid aging of the Chinese population, at least not in Gansu and Zhejiang.

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