IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Health in China and India: A cross-country comparison in a context of rapid globalisation


  • Dummer, Trevor J.B.
  • Cook, Ian G.


China and India are similarly huge nations currently experiencing rapid economic growth, urbanisation and widening inequalities between rich and poor. They are dissimilar in terms of their political regimes, policies for population growth and ethnic composition and heterogeneity. This review compares health and health care in China and India within the framework of the epidemiological transition model and against the backdrop of globalisation. We identify similarities and differences in health situation. In general, for both countries, infectious diseases of the past sit alongside emerging infectious diseases and chronic illnesses associated with ageing societies, although the burden of infectious diseases is much higher in India. Whilst globalisation contributes to widening inequalities in health and health care in both countries - particularly with respect to increasing disparities between urban and rural areas and between rich and poor - there is evidence that local circumstances are important, especially with respect to the structure and financing of health care and the implementation of health policy. For example, India has huge problems providing even rudimentary health care to its large population of urban slum dwellers whilst China is struggling to re-establish universal rural health insurance. In terms of funding access to health care, the Chinese state has traditionally supported most costs, whereas private insurance has always played a major role in India, although recent changes in China have seen the burgeoning of private health care payments. China has, arguably, had more success than India in improving population health, although recent reforms have severely impacted upon the ability of the Chinese health care system to operate effectively. Both countries are experiencing a decline in the amount of government funding for health care and this is a major issue that must be addressed.

Suggested Citation

  • Dummer, Trevor J.B. & Cook, Ian G., 2008. "Health in China and India: A cross-country comparison in a context of rapid globalisation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 590-605, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:67:y:2008:i:4:p:590-605

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Devadasan, Narayanan & Ranson, Kent & Van Damme, Wim & Acharya, Akash & Criel, Bart, 2006. "The landscape of community health insurance in India: An overview based on 10 case studies," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(2-3), pages 224-234, October.
    2. Liu, Xingzhu & Mills, Anne, 2002. "Financing reforms of public health services in China: lessons for other nations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(11), pages 1691-1698, June.
    3. Cook, Ian G. & Dummer, Trevor J. B., 2004. "Changing health in China: re-evaluating the epidemiological transition model," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 329-343, March.
    4. Bhalla, A. S., 1990. "Rural-urban disparities in India and China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(8), pages 1097-1110, August.
    5. Neumann, A. K. & Lauro, P., 1982. "Ethnomedicine and biomedicine linking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 16(21), pages 1817-1824, January.
    6. Kijima, Yoko, 2006. "Caste and Tribe Inequality: Evidence from India, 1983-1999," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 369-404, January.
    7. John, Rijo M., 2005. "Tobacco consumption patterns and its health implications in India," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 213-222, February.
    8. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2004.060103_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Phillips, David R., 1994. "Does epidemiological transition have utility for health planners?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1-1, May.
    10. Leslie, Charles, 1985. "What caused India's massive community health workers scheme: A sociology of knowledge," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 21(8), pages 923-930, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Weifan Zhang & Rebecca Liu & Chris Chatwin, 2016. "Chinese Medical Device Market and The Investment Vector," Papers 1609.05200,
    2. repec:spr:ijphth:v:62:y:2017:i:7:d:10.1007_s00038-017-0968-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Adam Wagstaff & Winnie Yip & Magnus Lindelow & William C. Hsiao, 2009. "China's health system and its reform: a review of recent studies," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S2), pages 7-23, July.
    4. Schrecker, Ted & Chapman, Audrey R. & Labonté, Ronald & De Vogli, Roberto, 2010. "Advancing health equity in the global marketplace: How human rights can help," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(8), pages 1520-1526, October.
    5. Holdaway, Jennifer & Levitt, Peggy & Fang, Jing & Rajaram, Narasimhan, 2015. "Mobility and health sector development in China and India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 268-276.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:67:y:2008:i:4:p:590-605. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.