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The intergenerational inequality of health in China

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  • Eriksson, Tor
  • Pan, Jay
  • Qin, Xuezheng

Abstract

This paper estimates the intergenerational health transmission in China using the 1991–2009 China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) data. Three decades of persistent economic growth in China has been accompanied by high income inequality, which may in turn be caused by the inequality of opportunity in education and health. In this paper, we find that there is a strong correlation of health status between parent and their offspring in both the urban and rural sectors, suggesting the existence of intergenerational health inequality in China. The correlation is robust to various model specifications, including the control of unobserved household heterogeneity using instrumental variables. We also find that parents' socio-economic characteristics and environmental choices are strongly correlated with their own and their children's health, supporting the “nature–nurture interaction” hypothesis. The Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition further indicates that 15% to 27% of the rural–urban inequality of child health is attributable to the endowed inequality from their parents' health. An important policy implication of our study is that the increasing inequality of income and opportunity in China can be ameliorated through the improvement of the current generation's health status and living standards.

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  • Eriksson, Tor & Pan, Jay & Qin, Xuezheng, 2014. "The intergenerational inequality of health in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 392-409.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:31:y:2014:i:c:p:392-409
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2014.06.005
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    10. Danilov, V., 2015. "Beyond Classical Rationality: Two-Stage Rationalization," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 12-35.

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    Keywords

    Intergenerational transmission; Health; Inequality; China;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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