Rising inequalities in income and health in China: Who is left behind?

In recent decades, China has experienced double-digit economic growth rates and rising inequality. This paper implements a new decomposition approach using the China Health and Nutrition Survey (1991–2006) to examine the extent to which changes in level and distribution of incomes and in income mobility are related to health disparities between rich and poor. We find that health disparities in China relate to rising income inequality and in particular to the adverse health and income experience of older (wo)men, but not to the growth rate of average incomes over the last decades. These findings suggest that replacement incomes and pensions at older ages may be one of the most important policy levers for reducing health disparities between rich and poor Chinese.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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