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Regional Disparity in Health and Health Care in China


  • Hong Wang

    (Yale University)

  • Licheng Zhang

    (Beijing University)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (The World Bank)


One major critique of the Chinese economic reform focuses on disparities in development. This study examines the recent trends in the disparities in health and health care resources across the provinces. This study also examines the relationship between health status, health care resources, and socioeconomic status. A panel data from "All China Data" and China Health Statistic Yearbooks is used in this study. These data include health status, health care resources, and socioeconomic status variables at the provincial level from 1980 to 2003. Index of disparity was used as the indicator for measuring regional disparity in health and health care resources. A fixed effect model was used to estimate the relationships between health status and health care resources and their potential determinants. The results of this study show that the disparities in maternal mortality, number of beds, and number of doctors increased and then declined in most recent years. However, the values of their indexes of disparity in 2002 are still higher than their values in 1985. Therefore the disparities in health status and health care resources across the provinces increased after the economic reform. The results of this study also suggest that socioeconomic status has significant association with health status and health care resources. The association between socioeconomic indicators and health status and health care resources varies in different economic zones.

Suggested Citation

  • Hong Wang & Licheng Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 2012. "Regional Disparity in Health and Health Care in China," CEMA Working Papers 541, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:541

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wagstaff, Adam & Paci, Pierella & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1991. "On the measurement of inequalities in health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 545-557, January.
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    3. Wagstaff, Adam, 1986. "The demand for health : Some new empirical evidence," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 195-233, September.
    4. Liu, Yuanli & Hsiao, William C. & Eggleston, Karen, 1999. "Equity in health and health care: the Chinese experience," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(10), pages 1349-1356, November.
    5. Rosett, Richard N & Huang, Lien-fu, 1973. "The Effect of Health Insurance on the Demand for Medical Care," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 281-305, Part I, M.
    6. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1.
    7. Busch, Lawrence & Dale, Christopher, 1978. "The changing distribution of physicians," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 167-176.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bakkeli, Nan Zou, 2016. "Income inequality and health in China: A panel data analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 39-47.

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