Socioeconomic status and chronic diseases: The case of hypertension in China
China has undergone a rapid epidemiological transition from infectious to chronic diseases, a process characterized by widespread under-diagnosis of chronic diseases and low rates of treatment and control. This paper uses hypertension as an example and documents the association of socioeconomic status with various measures of this condition, i.e., prevalence, awareness, treatment and control. We find no wealth and education gradients in the prevalence of hypertension. Given education, wealth plays some roles in improving the treatment and control of hypertension. Some associations exist between education and diagnosis/treatment/control in urban areas but not in rural areas. We also find that the public health care services in China contribute little in informing patients of their hypertension status, suggesting that how to improve the effectiveness of the health care system in dealing with emerging chronic illnesses should be policy priority.
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