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Do the Chinese "Keep up with the Jones"?: Implications of peer effects, growing economic disparities and relative deprivation on health outcomes among older adults in China

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  • Ling, Davina C.
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    Abstract

    What are the health effects of unequal economic growth? What are the health consequences of 'keeping up with the Jones'? Many developed countries (e.g., US and Japan) have experienced significant income growth between 1950s and 2000s but population survey shows that on average the population is not growing more satisfied with life. Theories that attempt to respond to these findings hypothesize that as income grows, people may spend more on conspicuous consumption because they compare themselves with others in their peer groups and care about their position in socio-economic distributions relative to others. Indeed, public health studies have found a relationship between income inequality and adult health outcomes in developed countries. Specifically, there seems to be a correlation between social hierarchy and mortality, as well as a correlation between social hierarchy and morbidity. China is a prime study site due to its growing spatial inequalities in the past decade. Though China has been committed to economic reform, different regions and cities have encountered very disparate rates of development and growth. In this paper, we utilize a set of panel data collected in China (China Health and Nutrition Survey 1989-2004) to examine the effects of peer groups, relative deprivation, and income disparities on individual health outcomes such as the probability of high waist circumference, body mass index categories, probability of hypertension, nutritional intake as well as health behavior such as smoking. We use a combination of multi-level mixed effects modeling as well as factor analysis to examine these effects and find significant and differential effects of income quartiles, peer groups, relative deprivation, and Gini coefficient on health.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal China Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 65-81

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:20:y:2009:i:1:p:65-81

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/chieco

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    Keywords: Economic growth Health Relative deprivation China Elderly;

    References

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    1. Lundborg, Petter, 2006. "Having the wrong friends? Peer effects in adolescent substance use," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 214-233, March.
    2. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative Deprivation, Inequality, and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 8099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Zhang, Xiaobo & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Spatial Inequality In Education And Health Care In China," Working Papers 127256, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    5. Harris, Jeffrey E. & González López-Valcárcel, Beatriz, 2008. "Asymmetric peer effects in the analysis of cigarette smoking among young people in the United States, 1992-1999," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 249-264, March.
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    7. Chotikapanich, Duangkamon & Prasada Rao, D.S. & Tang, KamKi, 2006. "Estimating Income Inequality in China Using Grouped Data and the Generalized Beta Distribution," Working Paper Series RP2006/134, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Beydoun, May A. & Popkin, Barry M., 2005. "The impact of socio-economic factors on functional status decline among community-dwelling older adults in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(9), pages 2045-2057, May.
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    11. repec:cto:journl:v:21:y:2002:i:3:p:395-414 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Jeffrey Wilson, 2007. "Peer Effects and Cigarette Use Among College Students," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 35(2), pages 233-247, June.
    13. Jones, Derek C. & Li, Cheng & Owen, Ann L., 2003. "Growth and regional inequality in China during the reform era," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 186-200.
    14. McCarthy, F. Desmond & Kangbin Zheng, 1996. "Population aging and pension systems : reform options for China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1607, The World Bank.
    15. Brian Finch, 2003. "Early origins of the gradient: the relationship between socioeconomic status and infant mortality in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 675-699, November.
    16. Adda, Jerome & Chandola, Tarani & Marmot, Michael, 2003. "Socio-economic status and health: causality and pathways," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 57-63, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. Maite Blázquez Cuesta & Santiago Budría, 2013. "Does income deprivation affect people’s mental well-being?," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 1312, Banco de Espa�a.
    2. PAN, Jay & QIN, Xuezheng & LIU, Gordon G., 2013. "The impact of body size on urban employment: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 249-263.
    3. Kuo, Chun-Tung & Chiang, Tung-liang, 2013. "The association between relative deprivation and self-rated health, depressive symptoms, and smoking behavior in Taiwan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 39-44.
    4. Adjaye-Gbewonyo, Kafui & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2012. "Use of the Yitzhaki Index as a test of relative deprivation for health outcomes: A review of recent literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 129-137.
    5. Jin, Lei & Wen, Ming & Fan, Jessie X. & Wang, Guixin, 2012. "Trans-local ties, local ties and psychological well-being among rural-to-urban migrants in Shanghai," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 288-296.

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